Our dependence on plastic is so extreme that we have microplastics not only floating through the ocean, but also in the atmosphere, in our food, and in our bodies. So how close are we to reinventing plastic?
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*Correction: Ajay Kathuria is a professor in the Industrial Technology and Packaging department at California Polytechnic State University.
Plastic really is...all around us. From our phones to our clothes to the shoes on our feet—plastic is tough to avoid. And for good reason! Plastic is a great invention that is flexible, durable, tunable, and, perhaps most importantly, super cheap.
But plastic also has a massive carbon footprint and wreaks havoc on our natural ecosystems. And while some think it is time we ditch the material all together, what if we came up with a more environmentally friendly upgrade instead?
Both options are easier said than done, one of the major challenges of reinventing plastic is finding a sustainable replacement that can successfully do all the things that plastic can do all while being both bio-based and biodegradable.
Luckily, there are teams of people working hard to discover and create this miracle material.
Find out more about the engineering race to create a technology that could solve our plastic problem on this How Close Are We?
#PlasticPollution #Sustainability #Technology #Science #Seeker #HowCloseAreWe
Common Plastics We Use Every Single Day
"Plastics can all be separated into two primary categories: thermoset and thermoplastic. Thermoset plastics are those that when cooled and hardened retain their shape and cannot return to original form. Durability is a benefit meaning that they can be used for tires, auto parts, aircraft parts, and more. Thermoplastics are less hard than the thermosets. They can become soft when heated and can return to their original form. They are easily molded to be formed into fibers, packaging, and films."
Kenyan scientist uses throw-away plastics to build homes
"Along with business partner and fellow environmental scientist Kevin Mureithi, Mwanake founded "Eco Blocks and Tiles" in 2016. It is the first company in Kenya to manufacture roof tiles and other construction materials from plastic and glass waste.
The tiles are more durable, lighter, and easier to transport and install than concrete or clay tiles. They are also safer for rainwater collection but are available at a similar cost."
A two-for-one punch: how Mango Materials turns waste methane into biodegradable materials
"The Mango team is always thinking about the “end-of-life” or the “design for next use” of their products — where they might ultimately end up; for example, a wastewater treatment plant or the ocean. “We spend a lot of our time looking at biodegradability in anaerobic environments, marine environments, backyard compost,” says Morse, “making sure that it’s completely digestible, making sure there’s no intermediate that could be persistent, or that you’re not inversely having something that’s toxic accumulating.”
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