The impact of plastic on our environment has been discussed a multitude of times by different stakeholders, and even as individuals merely living our everyday lives, one thing should have definitely become clearer in the past few years: it is incredibly damaging, especially to our oceans. As a response, the UN drafted a resolution involving 200 countries to cut millions of tons of plastic waste every year. The EU followed with a similar campaign that aims to make all packaging fully reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Perhaps something that could help with these initiatives is the constant innovation of what plastics are available to use. Recently, a team of chemists at Colorado State University created a new kind of recyclable plastic which theoretically be used “infinitely”.
“The polymers can be chemically recycled and reused, in principle, infinitely,” said [Professor Eugene Chen]. “It would be our dream to see this chemically recyclable polymer technology materialise in the marketplace.”
The material they created has similarities with the plastics we currently use in order to be as functional. These include strength, durability, and heat resistance. But one key difference in the chemical composition of the “infinitely” recyclable plastic is its ability to be easily converted back to the molecules that form its building blocks. Because the scientists see that this process does not need toxic chemicals or intensive lab procedures, they promote the potential of the recyclable plastic for commercial use.
[C]ommenting on the new discovery, chemists Dr. Haritz Sardon and Professor Andrew Dove . . . wrote that such discoveries could “lead to a world in which plastics at the end of their life are not considered as waste but as raw materials to generate high value products and virgin plastics . . . This will both incentivise recycling and encourage sustainability.”
Tons of millions of plastic waste could seriously be avoided if there is widespread use of this “infinitely” recyclable plastic. Instead of increasingly causing the death of our oceans, perhaps plastic itself could live a new life again and again.
Today, health buffs are all about living both longer and happier, which is why curry is all the craze. While “healthy mind, healthy body” is the catchphrase of the year, natural cosmetic remedies have yet to surface. Or perhaps we just haven’t noticed them. In perfect cinematic fashion, Japanese scientists revealed that McDonald’s fries may actually cure baldness. Now that’s a thought.
Researchers at Yokohama National University found that when they used the chemical dimethylpolysiloxane — found in silicone, which is added to oil to cook french fries at the fast-food restaurant… — they could mass produce hair follicles that could grow hair when transplanted into mice.
Despite the slew of regenerative products in every department store’s hair aisle, baldness is more troublesome than it seems. However, incorporating the substance into transplant procedures could solve the pesky problem. And no, binging on McDonald’s fries won’t actually help.
“This simple method is very robust and promising,” [professor Junji] Fukuda said. “We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia.”
If you were picking at your wallet and considering a pit stop at Mickey D’s, you may want to think twice. A splurge on fries was clearly too good to be true.
The detrimental effects of pesticides have many scrambling for alternatives. Be it through pest-sniffing dogs or banning the substance altogether, there has yet to be an affordable and simple solution. With an abundance of arable land in its countrysides, England is taking a different approach. Farms are experimenting with wildflowers, hoping to naturally boost pest predators and alleviate the need for chemical pesticides.
Using wildflower margins to support insects including hoverflies, parasitic wasps and ground beetles has been shown to slash pest numbers in crops and even increase yields.
Harvesters will use GPS technology to monitor their crops throughout full cycles. Where nature may falter, machines step in — primarily to avoid predator outbreaks. We all know plagues are better off immortalized in history books.
“There is undoubtedly scope to reduce pesticide use – that is a given,” said Bill Parker, director of research at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. “There will be probably quite a lot of years when pests are not a problem and pesticide use could be vastly reduced.”
Despite the experiment’s promising nature, the change demands copious amounts of time and effort. Still, many advocating for a much needed cultural shift in agricultural industries are likely to see it through.