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Can you imagine that by 2050 our oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish by weight? This will be a grim reality if we don’t take action to stop the millions of tons of plastic that enter our oceans every year. That’s why plastic recycling is so important. Typically, you recycle plastics by melting and reshaping them into new products. Unfortunately, this method often damages the plastic, resulting in lower quality materials. But what if we could use the power of sunlight instead to recycle plastic? As a chemist I explore how to deconstruct plastic with light. By triggering chemical reactions with light, plastics can be broken down to small molecules. These building blocks can then be used to create new plastics of equal quality as the original ones. This process is not only efficient, but also ecofriendly. My hope is that by harnessing the energy of sunlight, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste that pollutes our environment and create a more sustainable future. It’s important that we all do our part in reducing plastic waste and protecting our planet for generations to come.

SUNLIGHT-DRIVEN PLASTIC RECYCLING
FABIAN EISENREICHPROFILE
Eindhoven University of Technology

Plastic is usually recycled by melting it down and making new products from it, but this process often damages the plastic. Fabian Eisenreich is investigating how we can use light to break down plastic. In this way, he hopes to reduce the amount of plastic waste that pollutes our environment.

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