We’ve seen a lot of developments in cleantech recently with regards to energy. There are interesting things happening, though, which impact other points in the supply chain.
Consider recycling. Earlier this week, scientists from Stanford and IBM published a paper announcing a new technique for making continuously recyclable plastics – that is, ones that can be recycled several times and still be commercially viable.
If generally adopted, the new technology is likely to impact both sourcing and waste disposal, by increasing the amount of recycled material available to manufacturers and reducing the availability of difficult-to-recycle plastics like PET, and by diverting a large quantity of waste from landfills.
Metal catalysts are used in the polymers of most plastics. This degrades over time – and continues to do so after the plastic has been recycled, meaning that a plastic can often only be recycled once. Plastics made with organic catalysts don’t degrade in the same way, and can potentially be recycled multiple times.
Chandrasekhar Narayan, who leads the San Jose-based team which produced the research, told Green Inc, “It’s really a new class of polymers. I think it’s going to revolutionize synthetic chemistry.”