Scientists Develop Recyclable Plastics Based on Sugars
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, U.K., and Duke University, U.S., have created a new family of polymers from sustainable sources that retain all of the same qualities as common plastics, but are also degradable and mechanically recyclable.
The researchers used sugar-based starting materials rather than petrochemical derivatives to make two new polymers, one which is stretchable like rubber and another which is tough but ductile, like most commercial plastics. The new polymers were made using isoidide and isomannide as building blocks. Both these compounds are made from sugar alcohols and feature a rigid ring of atoms. The researchers found that the isoidide-based polymer, showed a stiffness and malleability similar to common plastics, and a strength that is similar to high grade engineering plastics such as Nylon-6.