Polymer based Circular Economy


The current practices in the generation and disposal of synthetic polymers are largely unsustainable. As part of the solution, the development of biodegradable polymers, which constitute a class of “green polymers” by the green chemistry principles, has been intensively pursued in the past two decades. However, the degradation of such polymers in Earth’s landfills leads to typically no recovery of material’s values, and their degradation in the Oceans could create new or unintended environmental consequences. The industrial mechanical recycling always suffers from a significant quality loss. The proposed ideal solution is to develop chemically recyclable polymers that not only solve the end-of-life issue of polymers, but also provide a direct approach to establish circular material’s economy. Accordingly, this Critical Review article captures some selected highlights of the emerging area of recyclable “green polymers” by focusing on major progresses, technical and environmental benefits made in the development of repurposing and depolymerization processes for chemical recycling of polymers at the end their useful life.


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