New Technology to Maintain the Mechanical Strength of Plastic Waste

Japan-based chemical company Green Science Alliance has received a license agreement from Fukuoka University to carry out a new recycling technology that can recover the mechanical strength of plastic waste relatively simple and effective.

Professor Shigeru Yao from Fukuoka University, Japan, has been researching plastic waste from the polymer physics aspect of view. Therefore, the Japanese researcher and developer of advanced materials in the field of energy and environmental science gave account. “He has clarified that the deterioration of mechanical strength of plastic waste is not due to chemical break down of polymer main chain; however, it is caused by inner crystal structural changes within plastic.”

According to Green Science Alliance, professor Yao had observed that mechanical strength, especially toughness, can be recovered by optimizing the re-pelletizing process. “In addition, he has theoretically and experimentally elucidated first time in the world that the mechanical strength of plastic waste can be regenerated as strong as a new plastic pellet under certain processing conditions. He has also developed a new type of extruder, which can reproduce this revolutionary plastic recycling technology with low cost but high efficiency.”

Until now, it was common sense that mechanical properties of plastic products were decayed over years and the plastic pellets made from plastic waste were also mechanically weak, the company explained. Therefore, using plastic pellets made from plastic waste was limited due to their poor properties. “However, plastic pellets reprocessed by this new innovative technology are expected to create new plastic molding products from plastic waste with high mechanical strength. This can be an amazing technology to reduce plastic waste quantity in the world.” This technology can be classified as material recycling, Green Science Alliance emphasized. Mechanical strength recovery is changeable depending on the type of plastic waste and on re-pelletizing process conditions. “However, the detailed development and analysis are under progress.”

Green Science Alliance has obtained a license agreement with Fukuoka University and installed the new extruder, that can carry out this technology in the company. They intend to further research and develop the technology by cooperating with Fukuoka University and other companies for performing custom testing, measuring, and analyzing properties of pellets made from various types of plastic waste. For a long-term plan, Green Science Alliance aims at supplying a large number of plastic pellets made from plastic waste as their business.

Some of the company’s other technologies (biomass biodegradable resin, next-generation rechargeable battery, fuel cell, solar cell, quantum dot, metal-organic framework, etc.) are registered by the United Nations Organization (UNIDO’s platform “STePP”, WIPO GREEN). Moreover, they were selected as finalists on the startup incubation program of UNOPS GIC KOBE Japan in 2020, the information said.

(Published in GLOBAL RECYCLING Magazine 1/2022, Page 43, Photo: O. Kürth)