Plastics

"Self-destructing plastic" wins top Prize in Create the Future contest

October 7, 2021

Example of film

Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually – equivalent to the entire weight of the human population. Less than 10% is recycled; most end up in landfills. A research team in the lab of Professor Ting Xu, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and...

A new technique could make some plastic trash compostable at home

April 23, 2021

With moderate heat, enzyme-laced films of the plastic disintegrated in standard compost or plain tap water within days to weeks, Ting Xu and her colleagues

“Biodegradability does not equal compostability,” says Xu, a polymer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She often finds bits of biodegradable plastic in the compost she picks up for her parents’ garden. Most biodegradable plastics go to landfills, where the conditions aren’t right for them to break down, so they degrade no faster than normal plastics.

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The Future Looks Bright for Infinitely Recyclable Plastic

April 22, 2021

worker looks at bails of plastic

Only about 2% of plastics are fully recycled currently. PDK plastics could solve the single-use crisis. (Chanchai Phetdikhai/Shutterstock)

A new environmental and technological analysis suggests that a revolutionary eco-friendly plastic is almost ready to hit the shelves.

Plastics are a part of nearly every product we use on a...

New process makes ‘biodegradable’ plastics truly compostable

April 21, 2021

Example of degraded plastic after process

A modified plastic (left) breaks down after just three days in standard compost (right) and entirely after two weeks. (UC Berkeley photo by Ting Xu)

Biodegradable plastics have been advertised as one solution to the plastic pollution problem...

Upcycling: Turning plastic bags into adhesives

December 18, 2020

Large pile of plastic in a dump

While plastic bags clog the waste stream, recycling them isn’t financially attractive, since they’re usually turned into very low-value products. If polyethylene packaging could be processed into high-value products, more of them would be recycled instead of ending up in landfills. (photo: Adobe Stock)

While many cities and eight states...

Experts predict the big chemistry advances of 2020

December 13, 2019

2020 trends in chemistry

Editors from ACS Central Science and Nature Chemistry have weighed in on new and major chemical research trends in a webinar from C&EN. Experts Chris Chang, a senior editor with ACS Central Science and chemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stu Cantrill, the chief editor of Nature Chemistry are interviewed. Chang picked advances in protein degraders for his big trend of 2019. Cantrill chose advances in the chemical recycling of plastics for his trend of the year.