Upcycling Plastic Waste into Benzoic Acid: A new Initiative by Chemists of Cornell
Upcycling Plastic Waste into Benzoic Acid: A new Initiative by Chemists of Cornell

Upcycling Plastic Waste into Benzoic Acid: A new Initiative by Chemists of Cornell

  • 21-Apr-2022 3:48 PM
  • Journalist: Patricia Jose Perez

The chemists at Cornell University have discovered a new approach to upcycle plastic waste using Sunlight and oxygen. Upcycling is the perfect way to keep landfills and oceans from overflowing with Plastic wastes. It is the most sustainable, eco-friendly, and energy-efficient route to upcycle plastic into Benzoic Acid. The chemists recently tried to transform Polystyrene waste into Benzoic Acid, and they succeeded in their experiment. The final Benzoic acid formed after the upcycling was good enough to be used in high school and undergraduate chemistry laboratories. In addition, it has its usage as food additives, fragrances, and several other products.

Polystyrene is the third most common plastic readily filling landfills owing to its wide usage in several industries. The growing concern regarding filling landfills motivated the research team at Cornell to address the issue and work towards it. Hence, they invented a sustainable way to upcycle plastic waste using Sunlight. Erin Stache, the team leader of the project said, “This approach to plastic upcycling is climate-friendly, scalable, and mild.” He further added that it’s a chemistry-based approach to solving a severe environmental problem.

The major highlight of this approach is utilizing Sunlight as an energy source because Sunlight eliminates the usage of fossil fuels in the first place. Secondly, Sunlight gives you the advantage of performing the reaction anywhere with sufficient light. The chemists also tested the tolerance level or efficiency of the process on various products ranging from packaging material to a coffee mug lid. After the testing, they realized that the white and clear cup lid showcased better degradation than the black cup lid. However, the results of the tests implied that this process has excellent efficiency and can be used to upcycle polystyrene on both small- and large-scale levels.

Furthermore, as the demand for Benzoic Acid has been increasing over the last few months amidst growing consumption in the food and beverage industry, so is the price value of Benzoic Acid. Thus, upcycling polystyrene into Benzoic acid would be able to reciprocate with the propelling demand for Benzoic Acid.

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