Chemical Strategies for Polymer Recycling and Lifespan Enhancement
The accumulation of persistent plastic waste in the environment constitutes an ecological crisis that requires innovative solutions. I will describe three distinct chemical strategies to enhance polymer sustainability: (1) retrieving monomers from commercial polymers via new depolymerization methods, (2) facilitating the deconstruction of commercial polymers by incorporating chemically cleavable bonds into their backbones, and (3) extending the lifespan of rubbery materials by harnessing polymer network defects to increase their toughness without compromising other desirable properties. These strategies have the potential to enable the conversion of existing plastic waste streams into high-value chemical feedstocks and the development of more sustainable polymers.
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