Recycling chemists

Geoffrey Coates and colleagues at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA, have found a way to facilitate the recycling of two very different, and chemically "incompatible", plastics, polyethylene and polypropylene, into a multiblock co-polymer using a simple additive. The discovery could circumvent the problem of how to recycle waste streams containing these two materials. To date, the vast majority of waste plastic is simply incinerated or sent to landfill, very little is repurposed because separation and processing are usually so costly and in efficient and there has until now been no way to easily synthesize new polymer blends.