What actually happens to our used plastics when they’re hauled off to recycling centers? They might be washed and shredded, then molded into the basis for a new bottle. Or they might be melted all the way down into an oil or fuel that can be used to power cars. Scientists could also, theoretically, feed them to the much-touted plastic-eating enzyme.
But there’s another way, one that could help us reuse hard-to-recycle plastics like bags. It comes courtesy of the startup BioCellection, which just partnered with San Jose to reshape the city’s recycling process.
BioCellection is the brainchild of Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao, two Chinese-Canadian entrepreneurs who started the company while they were still in college. As Wang explained to CNN, she and Yao have engineered a catalyst that breaks down plastic. But their process is supposedly cheaper and faster, taking just three hours. At the end of the cycle, the former plastic is a collection of chemicals, which can be used to make paints, nylon clothing, shoe soles, car parts, electronics, and perfumes.