Sir David Attenborough Backs New Tech That Can Recycle All Plastics

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A new recycling plant under construction in England features technologies that can break down any kind of plastic polymer into its constituent elements for recycling.

According to Forbes, wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough appeared in a video alongside other naturalists and the owners of the new plant that uses superheated steam to obliterate the chemical bonds holding the monomers together.

Owned by Mura Technology, the process is known as HydroPRS, and it’s particularly special due to its ability to break down plastics normally destined for landfills or incineration. It can even remove biological material like food scraps clinging to the plastic, an aspect that can sometimes prevent plastic from being recycled—instead being used to power the boilers fueling the recycling.

What’s left are oils and chemicals ready to be re-sold to manufacturers to make into new products.

“What’s so tragic about plastic pollution is that it is so totally unnecessary,” Attenborough says in the video, released by U.K. recycling firm Mura Technology. “The plastic in our oceans should never have found its way there in the first place.”

Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and there are tons of smart technologies, many of them emerging, for recycling and biodegrading plastic.

Further still, plastic is being pulled out of rivers and the ocean with ever more intelligent designs and committed organizations. Yet the problem is set to get worse for the oceans, as more of the developing world enters the consumption-heavy prosperity and security of modern life.

Mura says the materials produced during their recycling process can be used again and again without ever becoming chemically unstable, and so it’s not surprising then that the British government is backing the project to the hilt as the plant in Teesside, England, ramps up to 1,000,000 tons of plastic recycling annually.

“The Government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away,” said Rebecca Pow, the U.K. under-secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.

“By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies, we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”