100th anniversary of macromolecular science viewpoint: towards catalytic chemical recycling of waste (and future) plastics

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The current global materials economy has long been inefficient due to unproductive reuse and recycling efforts. Within the wider materials portfolio, plastics have been revolutionary to many industries but they have been treated as dispos-able commodities leading to their increasing accumulation in the environment as waste. The field of chemistry has had significant bearing in ushering in the current plastics industry and will undoubtedly have a hand in transforming it to become more sustainable. Existing approaches include the development of synthetic biodegradable plastics and turning to renewable raw materials in order to produce plastics similar to our current petrol-based materials or create new pol-ymers. Additionally, chemists are confronting the environmental crisis by developing alternative recycling methods to deal with the legacy of plastic waste. Important emergent technologies, such as catalytic chemical recycling or upcy-cling, have the potential to alleviate numerous issues related to our current and future refuse and, in doing so, help piv-ot our materials economy from linearity to circularity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494–1506
Number of pages13
JournalACS Macro Letters
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020


  • plastic, monomers, recycling, materials, biodegradable