Amazon to find a better way to recycle single-use plastics
The consortium, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US, was launched in October 2020 to spur innovation and advance new technologies to address plastic pollution by bringing together cutting edge talent and capabilities from both the public and private sectors.
BOTTLE stands for “Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment.”
Amazon has joined the DOE-backed project to help further its progress in developing chemical upcycling. The research collaboration is a way of handling today’s plastics and ensuring tomorrow’s plastics are recyclable by design.
“Plastics are extremely versatile materials, and often they are still the best option available for a myriad of functions,” said Gregg Beckham, BOTTLE’s CEO and a senior research fellow at the NREL. “Finding a way to better recycle single-use plastics while reducing and ultimately eliminating their use is a grand challenge of our time, and we’re committed to pursuing scientific advancement to this end. With Amazon’s innovation expertise, we’re excited to work together to find solutions that have the potential to have vast, positive impacts.”
As part of the consortium, Amazon’s growing team of materials scientists and experts hopes to develop technologies and materials that will enable the full life cycle of plastics to be net-zero carbon. Amazon’s team will work with the consortium to create new energy efficient technology that will break down different kinds of plastics and turn them into valuable materials that can be used to make the same types of plastics or new plastics. In cases where the materials don’t make it back into the recycling stream, the molecular structure of the new materials will be designed to biodegrade in natural environments.
This research is another step in Amazon’s efforts to eliminate or reduce packaging waste. As of 2021, Amazon had reduced the outbound weight of packaging per shipment by 36%, a total of one million tons, while increasing the use of recyclable materials.