LDPE recycling could be aided by a newly developed technique that will allow plastics manufacturers to specify the properties of the material.
Researchers at Durham University and the University of Leeds have led a project that has developed a technique to build better macromolecules. These are the molecules that make up the basic components of plastics and dictate their properties during manufacture.
The researchers said that until now, plastics were developed and a use was then found for it, or that manufacturers tried hundreds of recipes to see what worked. This new technique should enable manufacturers to develop new plastics that can be easily recycled as a result.
Durham University pro-vice chancellor for research and leader of the Microscale Polymer Processing project Professor Tom McLeish said that as plastics production moves from oil-based materials to sustainable and renewable materials, the trial and error phase in developing new plastics could now be by-passed.
He added: “By changing two or three numbers in the computer code, we can adapt all the predictions for new bio-polymer sources. This is a wonderful outcome of years of work by this extraordinary team. It’s testimony to the strong collaborative ethos of the UK research groups and global companies involved.”