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Rethinking the science of plastic recycling

 In a recently published study in the journal ACS Central Science, the multi-institutional team, including Ames Laboratory scientists, reported a catalytic method for selectively converting discarded plastics into higher quality products, such as lubricant oils or waxes. In turn, the waxes can be processed into everyday products like detergents and cosmetics.

“There are certainly things we can do as a society to reduce consumption of plastics in some cases, but there will always be instances where plastics are difficult to replace, so we really want to see what we can do to find value in the waste,” said Aaron Sadow, scientist and team leader of the project at Ames Laboratory.

The paper, Upcycling Single-Use Polyethylene into High-Quality Liquid Products, appears in the Oct. 23 issue of ACS Central Science.