Researchers in the Netherlands have reported the development of a plastic that can be reused many times.
Antonius Broekhuis and his colleagues at the University of Groningen noted that thermoset plastics are widely used in consumer electronics because of their hardness and heat resistance.
These plastics, however, contain additives and reinforcement materials that make them almost impossible to recycle.
As a result, thermoset plastics often end up in landfills or incinerators, where they contribute to pollution.
Scientists have long sought a simple, inexpensive process to make these plastics recyclable, but, until now, they have been largely unsuccessful.
Broekhuis and his colleagues claim that they have developed a type of thermosetting plastic that can be melted and remoulded without losing its original heat resistance and strength.
The scientists showed in laboratory tests that they could melt granules of what they term a self-healing polymer and reform them into uniform, rigid plastic bars.
They also showed that the plastic could be remoulded multiple times, setting the stage for a new generation of recyclable plastics.
More information on the plastic can be found here.