Published on October 31st, 2017 | by Andrea Bertoli0
Innovation In Plastics Recycling With YASED (CleanTechnica Interview)
October 31st, 2017 by Andrea Bertoli
It’s no secret that plastic pollution is one of the most persistent waste issues we face on our planet. Plastic, made from petroleum by-products, is toxic to produce and is essentially a persistent pollutant: plastic takes years to break down in landfills, but it degrades into equally harmful components. Plastics break down rapidly in the ocean, to the detriment of the ocean environment. And lest you think recycling is the solution, recent research shows that only about 9% of plastic is recycled.
Even if we try make efforts to limit our plastic consumption, we are both victims and perpetrators of excessive plastic consumption. Companies essentially force us to buy increasingly more plastic items because of planned obsolesce and an influx of cheap materials made from plastics. The solution is both reduction in creation of plastics (by companies and industry), reduction in purchases of plastic (by consumers), and rapid deployment of plastic recycling and repurposing solutions.
Enter YASED, a finalist in the 2017 Climate Launchpad Grand Final. YASED makes a natural solution that effectively and rapidly breaks down both expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) and hard polystyrene (plastic #6 on US labels).
Not only does the solution dissolve both types of polystyrene — it is then fully extractable and reusable. The solution is so fast-acting that they were able to almost completely break down a small styrofoam cup during the five-minute pitch during the finals.
Anna from YASED explains in our short interview below that the polymers remain the same after dissolving in their liquid. Polystyrene can be added to the liquid until it’s saturated; once saturated, the plastic polymers can be extracted. The polymers remain unchanged, and can thus be turned into new products without additional inputs.
They are currently testing the liquid to see if it can also work with PET plastics (polyethylene terephthalate, plastic #1 on US labels; used for soda and water bottles). It was great to interview Anna Solaz, because I was really excited about this solution since it solves one of our most insidious issues on the planet, and does it in a way that both reduces need for new materials and has the potential to make use of all the plastic that is still floating in our environment. Watch the short interview below for more:
Image of Anna from ClimateLaunchpad. Thanks to Kyle Field for filming and editing the interview and sharing some giggles over audio!