Polymers are used in construction, clothing, the energy sector, transportation and many other areas. The current practices in the generation and disposal of synthetic polymers are largely unsustainable. Global polymer production is about 359 million tons per year, with polyethylene being the highest volume polymer produced. Low-density grocery bags, beverage bottles and food containers constitute “single-use plastics” since they are typically discarded after a single use.
As part of the solution, the development of biodegradable polymers has been intensively pursued in the past two decades. Research conducted at the Statler College proposes a more sustainable solution to develop chemically recyclable polymers that not only solve the end-of-life issue of polymers, but also provide a direct approach to establish a circular materials economy.