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Engineering Materials

Bioplastics Recycling Options Expand

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ChasChas
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ChasChas   3/26/2012 10:10:06 AM
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Good arcticle - holds promise.

But, like everything else, recycling begins in the home. Our fast paced and often immoral life-style seems to be endangering the original concept of home. We now rely government, industry, science, and big thinking to solve the simplest problems that use to be second nature in the home.

Charles Murray
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Re: Bioplastics
Charles Murray   3/23/2012 6:25:21 PM
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Ann: Is it possible to use any of these recycled products for the creation of fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Bioplastics
Rob Spiegel   3/23/2012 2:52:25 PM
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I agree, Apresher. Given the low participation in recycling, your suggestion of making materials that decompose easily may be a big answer. Now that we're harvesting methane from landfills, decomposable trash going to landfills will become positive.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bioplastics
Ann R. Thryft   3/23/2012 2:10:59 PM
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Thanks for the feedback guys. Actually, only some bioplastics are biodegradable--but purposeful, managed composting and biodegrading in landfills are two different things. The first captures as much CO2 as possible, while the second does not--landfills are the last resort that everyone is trying to avoid because it takes so long for anything to break down there and lets off a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. Engineering bioplastics are neither, so recycling them is the best option.

Alex' point is a good one about technology, not regulations, driving things. That's certainly the case when it comes to energy recovery of plastic by recycling them into fuels, which will be the subject of my May feature.


apresher
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Bioplastics
apresher   3/23/2012 1:54:19 PM
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Rob, Completely agree with you and it seems like those two criteria will ultimately become requirements for almost all types of recycling options.  It's amazing to think about the amount of innovation that will likely occur in this market area over the next few years, given the pace of developments at this point.  Good stuff, Ann.

Rob Spiegel
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OK in the landfill
Rob Spiegel   3/23/2012 1:45:33 PM
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Seems there are two interesting aspects of this story, Ann. for one, it's good to see a manufacturer would work with a recycler to make sure the products they produce have a welcome home at their end of life. It's also good to see these products will break down easily in landfills -- given that you say 88 percent of plastic doesn't get recycled.

Alexander Wolfe
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Engineering needs meet price viability
Alexander Wolfe   3/23/2012 9:16:46 AM
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The new range of materials made out of recyclables is opening up huge design possibilities. It's interesting to note that, right now, this is really taking just a drop in the bucket out of the waste stream. In 50 years, however, we could see a significant reduction in the waste stream because of serious percentages of recylcing. As well, the whole movement, notable in the auto industry, about designing equipment so that it's easily disassembled, will reach full flower and feed into this. Also of note is the fact that what's happening now seems driven more by technology than regulations, which makes it more organic.

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