Could polyurethanes be replaced with recyclable sugar-derived foam?

Scientists have been working on a new recyclable sugar-derived foam that could transform the currently difficult to recycle polyurethane into something more sustainable.


Polyurethane is highly versatile and has a wide range of uses from cushiony sofas to stretching spandex, it makes activities such as sleeping, sitting and walking more comfortable. Other uses for the material include electronics, car floors and medical devices. However the material is unfortunately non-degradable and once its no longer required it often ends up filling up landfill sites. This is due to the fact that the material comes from petroleum and the efforts to recycle it are extremely limited.


Due to the need to pursue a more sustainable option, Marc A. Hillmyer and his colleagues have developed a sugar derived rubbery polyester called PMVL. This substance has the potential to reduce creating further waste. The polyester is a chemically recyclable foam made from sugar derived material which can be used to produce a new chemically recyclable polyurethane. It’s comparable in performance and has also been put through numerous checks to test its recyclability.


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