Scientists Discover New Recycling Process To Create BPA-Free Plastics

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016

According to the American Chemical Society, we use more than 2.7 million tons of plastics (polycarbonates) to make things you use every day: baby bottles, CDs, LED screens, eyeglass lenses and smartphones. Over time those plastics decompose and leach a industrial toxic chemical called bisphenol (BPA) into the environment.

Researchers from IBM Research’s Almaden lab in San Jose, California announced they created a new, one-step chemical process that converts these BPA plastics into plastics that can be used for water purification, fiber optics and medical devices.

Gavin O. Jones, Ph.D., research staff member, IBM Research – Almaden Lab, said the new one-step process opens the door to a new way of recycling to improve how this substance impacts the world’s health and environment.

IBM IBM -2.11%IBM researchers heated old CDS with a base of fluoride reactant similar to baking powder to create a new plastic which created a new substance like powder that had more temperature and chemical resistance that the original substance. When the powder is turned into new plastic forms, its strength prevents the decomposition process that causes BPA leaching.

“While preventing these plastics from entering landfills, we simultaneously recycle the substance into a new type of plastic — safe and strong enough for purifying our water and producing medical equipment,” said Jeanette Garcia, Ph. D., research staff member, IBM Research – Almaden Lab. “It’s an environmental win on many fronts.”


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