IBM researchers discovered recycling process for old polycarbonates like CDs

CD recycling (Foto: cc - IBM Research – Almaden)

Armonk, New York, USA — IBM researchers have discovered a new, one-step chemical process that converts polycarbonates into plastics. They added a fluoride reactant, a base (similar to baking powder) and heat to old CDs to produce a new plastic with temperature and chemical resistance superior to the original substance. When the powder is reconstructed into new forms, its strength prevents the decomposition process that causes Bisphenol A (BPA) leaching.

“Polycarbonates are common plastics in our society – especially in consumer electronics in the form of LED screens, smartphones and Blu-rays, as well as everyday eyeglass lenses, kitchen utensils and household storage gear,” described Gavin O. Jones, Ph.D., research staff member of IBM Research – Almaden in San Jose, California. “We now have a new way of recycling to improve how this prominent substance impacts the world’s health and environment.”

“While preventing these plastics from entering landfills, we simultaneously recycle the substance into a new type of plastic – safe and strong enough for purifying our water and producing medical equipment,” explained research staff member Jeanette Garcia, Ph. D. “It’s an environmental win on many fronts.”

The full research paper „One-step Conversion of Polycarbonates into Value-added Polyaryl ether sulfones“ was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Source: IBM Research