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This New Plastic Can Be Recycled Infinitely, and Scientists Think it Could Make Plastic Recycling Closed Loop

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By now, you've probably heard the statistic that only about 9 percent of plastics actually get recycled, with the rest winding up in landfills and oceans. To combat the plastic crisis, many eco-conscious people are turning away from the material — but a group of scientists from Berkeley, Calif. are instead trying to change the material. According to a study, the scientists developed a new form of plastic that actually allows for a closed-loop and zero-waste recycling process. The plastic is called poly(diketoenamine) or PDK.

Four researchers from the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. conducted the study, which was published by the journal Nature Chemistry. As explained in the study's abstract, the scientists discovered that if plastics "undergo reversible polymerization," then high-value monomers can be recovered and re-manufactured into new materials. The scientists add that PDK plastic will remain just as strong and valuable after each time it is recycled, unlike traditional plastic. (More on that in a moment.)