Just a few months ago Dr. Jeanette Garcia, a researcher at IBM’s Amalden Research Center in San Jose, created a new plastic that could help reduce pollution. According to her, it all happened by accident when she mistakenly left out a compound from a reaction. She and her colleagues had to do many experiments to find out what mistake she had made, so that they could come up with a formula for the new themoset polymer. Polymers are generally very easy to produce and for this reason, they are some of the worst pollutants. When they are dumped into landfills they can take ages to decompose and are eyesores when the winds blow them into parks and private lands. Plastics dumped into the sea usually end up suffocating animals entangled within them. Little pieces of plastic have been found in fish and some birds.
There are some plastics that can be recycled, however, the ones that are used to make durable products cannot be recycled. Such polymers are called thermoset plastics and are often used to make large solid shapes like cars, airplanes and even smartphones. They are used to make these solid shapes because they are light and strong. However, the new new plastic that Garcia and her colleagues at IBM made, are as strong as bone, 100 percent recyclable and have self healing properties.
Thus, the new plastic can be used to make durable products that do not have to be dumped, which will eventually reduce pollution. Each property of this new thermoset polymer makes it applicable in a number of industries. For instance, its self-healing properties may make it useful in the production of materials that are usually exposed to harsh environmental conditions like prosthetic limbs and vehicles. Additionally, since the polymer is recyclable, companies that make plastic products will be able to save a significant amount of money if they use the new thermoset plastic.
A study done by The Climate Group in the US, UK and China shows that consumers are becoming increasingly interested in what companies are doing to mitigate climate change. Experts believe that this is happening because many people are gaining awareness of climate change and the processes that cause it. The study also found that consumers in the UK and the US are significantly becoming more committed to issues tied to climate change. Their new awareness about climate change has made consumers critical of companies that do nothing to protect the environment. Some business owners have actually found themselves in trouble when consumers discovered that the raw materials used in making the goods they pay are causing environmental pollution in the countries where they are mined or farmed.
However, many companies are were hit by the economic downturn and are less eager to deal with climate change issues. Analysts say that this means that there is a disconnection between them and their consumers. The Climate Group study showed that in the US, more than 65 percent of consumers could not identify companies that are taking an initiative to curb pollution of the environment.
Thus, with IBM’s new plastic it will be easier for these companies to take a stand on climate change. For instance, they could use the new thermoset plastics to create their products and start projects where consumers can help in recycling them to reduce pollution.
By Michael Obunga