Time-Lapse Shows New 'PDK' Recyclable Plastic Breaking Down

Plastics contain many additives like dyes, fillers, and flame retardants, so very few plastics can actually be recycled without loss in performance. Now, researchers from Berkeley Lab have designed a recyclable plastic that can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level, and then reassembled into a different shape or texture over and over – without loss of performance or quality. The new material is called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK. This time-lapse video shows a small piece of the PDK plastic in acid as it degrades to its molecular building blocks (monomers). The acid helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from the chemical additives that give plastic its look and feel.