Breakthrough polymer research promises to revolutionize recycling

plastic moving down a conveyer belt in a recycling plant

Plastic being transferred on a conveyor belt in a recycling facility. Photo by hiv360 via Adobe Stock

A team of researchers led by Brent Sumerlin, the George B. Butler Professor in UF's Department of Chemistry, has made a breakthrough with the potential to transform how we recycle plastics. Their innovative approach to working with polymers has led them to develop a new method for recycling that promises to lower the energy requirement without sacrificing the quality of the plastic.

It’s no secret that the U.S. and the Earth at large have a pressing plastic problem. Despite a meteoric rise in usage over the past few decades, only about 10% of our plastic currently ends up getting recycled.

“Our work is a response to the call to action proposed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” said Sumerlin. “New recycling strategies have become imperative to reduce the negative impact of plastic on the environment.”

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