50 years in the past, scientists developed self-destructing plastic

50 years in the past, scientists developed self-destructing plastic

cover of the August 7, 1971 issue of Science News

This plastic will self-destruct — Science Information, August 7, 1971

Public indignation over litter and rubbish has brought on trade to ask chemists whether or not self-destroying, or shortly degradable, plastics may be devised to switch indestructible … glass, aluminum and plastics, which comprise the most important phase of client waste.… [Chemist James] Guillet and his staff … devised a self-destroying plastic that’s about prepared for advertising — a wrapping paper that disintegrates in a few month.


Guillet’s work on polymers that degrade through gentle helped pave the way in which for his or her wider industrial use. However these supplies might have created extra issues than they solved. Most plastics wind up in landfills the place the supplies don’t get sufficient gentle to degrade as meant (SN: 1/30/21, p. 20). Plastics that do break down flip into microscopic items that may wind up in ecosystems and hurt animals. Scientists are attempting to make extra eco-friendly plastics, resembling compostable plastics that may be completely damaged down with enzymes (SN: 6/5/21, p. 5).

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