Essay about Polyethylene and Polyterephthalate are Outdated

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Poly(ethylene terephthalate) Outdated: Is the World Ready for a New Plastic?

Abstract:
This paper explains the structure of polymer poly(ethylene terephthalate) also known as
PET. It states the properties of the plastic as well recycling methods. My goal was to find out what makes PET the number one plastic, both in consumption as well as the most recycled. I also searched for new polymers that are being created by scientists and compare them to PET to see if there was a plastic out there that is better for the environment. I found a few alternatives that would be able to replace PET but aren’t being used. I also found a fire-proof polymer called BHDB which can replace the previously used polymer.
Poly(ethylene terephthalate),
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Over 8 million pounds of PET is manufactured in the U.S. alone. It is also the only polymer that can be chemically recycled back to its starting material. It can also be downcycled, made into other materials, some of those materials include polyoflefins, polystyrene, and tire rubber. Recycling and downcycling all help reduce energy consumption. By recycling you don’t have to make new materials and in doing so save the energy required for doing so. The basic molecular structure or poly(ethylene terephthaleate) can be seen in figure one. This basic structure is repeated to form PET plastic. PET is made of polymers, which contain co-monomers such as ethers, amide and aliphatic monomers. Having these monomers makes it easy to biodegrade especially through the process of hydrolysis[1], which is decomposition by the usage of water. 3
Figure one.
[2]
Some polymers, such as Poly(ethylene terephthalate), are easily degraded through photo, thermal or biological means[1]. Photo degradation uses UV light to degrade polymers. Two major factors are time and heat. Those two factors reduce the molecular weight, something that is important due to the fact the smaller the molecular weight the easier it will biodegrade. Thermal degradation uses heat in order to make the backbone of the polymer separate. Once the polymer is deteriorated it’s much easier for it to biodegrade. The last type of degradation is biodegradation. This is

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