Plastics make up most of the materials we use in our lives. Most plastics are left to landfill, some recycled and some sent of too large furnaces to be burnt in the process of producing electricity.
The low cost, durability, and versatility of plastic make it unbeatable to most alternatives.
So to the entrepreneurs of the day to try and solve what we believe is unsolvable. And luckily for the US, there are labs around the world working on a solution to plastic pollution.
IBM recently made a breakthrough in this area. Through a new process called VolCat, a chemical process has been discovered that can actively and select PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) and break it down into a new raw material that allows this plastic to be remolded or remade into new plastic products.
Whilst this doesn’t solve the issue of plastic pollution, it points to a new movement in big business, with a market for large scale plastic renewability and moving away from making new PET products out of petroleum-based materials. Investing into making what we see as a redundant resource after disposal as a renewable resource, effectively allows a waste product to be selected and sold back into markets through a renewable and profitable venture, taking something worth nothing and making it worth something.
The development of this new method of PET recycling certainly does have its downsides, but I’d be interested to know what people think about IBM’s choice to invest in this new technology. Either way, the question is out there and big businesses and research labs like IBM are looking to come up with an answerable solution. So what do you make of all this? is trying to make plastic into a renewable resource is worth it? Or should we look to alternative methods such as using genetically edited bacteria to break down existing landfills, even looking to develop new types of superplastics that are biodegradable?