Process converts polyethylene bags, plastics to polymer building blocks

Polyethylene plastics — single-use bags and general-purpose bottles — are indestructable forever plastics. That also makes them hard to recycle. Chemists have found a way to break down the polymer — a chain of about a thousand ethylene molecules — into three-carbon molecules, propylene, which are in high demand for making another plastic, polypropylene. The process could turn waste plastic into high-value feedstocks and reduce the need for fossil fuels to make propylene.Polyethylene plastics — single-use bags and general-purpose bottles — are indestructable forever plastics. That also makes them hard to recycle. Chemists have found a way to break down the polymer — a chain of about a thousand ethylene molecules — into three-carbon molecules, propylene, which are in high demand for making another plastic, polypropylene. The process could turn waste plastic into high-value feedstocks and reduce the need for fossil fuels to make propylene.

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