IBM researchers have come up with a way to chemically separate plastic molecules. VolCat creates a residue that can be re-used to create plastic products.

The Big Blue claims that its Volatile Catalyst (VolCat) process even works with contaminated plastic (eg: food residue, glue, dirt, dyes, and pigments) meaning that the sorting and cleaning of plastic could disappear altogether.

VolCat works by grinding up plastic waste, combining it with a catalyst (the secret bit) and heating it to above 200 degree Celsius in a large pressure cooker. During the process contaminants are separated leaving a white powder monomer which can then be fed into a polyester reactor to make new plastics.

Could this be an insight into the immediate future where tech companies tackle head on some of the environmental issues facing us all. Hats off to IBM if this works – could be a game changer.