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Designing plastic to break down in the ocean is possible, but is it practical?

Creating plastic containers that easily degrade in sea water would be a dream solution to the growing problem of plastic waste in the ocean, but a team of Penn State New Kensington researchers suggest that, at least for now, recycling and finding plastic alternatives may still the best way of handling this waste.  In a study, the researchers used a machine learning algorithm to classify more than 110 types of plastics, including commercial and lab-made varieties, to better understand how they might degrade in the ocean, said Robert Mathers, professor of chemistry.  "One of the things we were interested in finding out is what is going to happen to the large quantity of plastic that is in the ocean," said Mathers. "This study took a wide range of physical property data, in combination with a metric that would quantify the composition of molecular structures and used that to try to figure out the most important aspects of plastic degradation in the ocean."  Read more...

 

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