While Baltimore is using a Solar Powered Garbage Wheel to remove 97,000 plastic bottles from the Baltimore harbor, other scientists are looking at ways to preemptively remove plastic bottles from our waterways entirely. It turns out that a chemist at Colorado University may have figured out a possible solution.

Plastic bottles and other man-made garbage in waterways are of an incredible concern to environmentalists everywhere. Estimates are that between 10 and 20 million tons of plastic find its way to the ocean each year, accounting for over 10 billion dollars in environmental damage a year. Furthermore, this plastic has gone so far as to form islands of garbage that are harming millions of wildlife each year.

In order to combat this growing issue, experimentation has begun on various polymers to be used in plastics that, rather than being partially biodegradable, would be completely so.  This new polymer called poly (GBL) looks to be able to be broken down to its base monomer when heat is applied, making it completely biodegradable.

This makes for an interesting shift in the possibilities of carbon neutral plastics. Even better, it is not derived from petroleum which can also make it incredibly cost efficient to produce.

The two scientists behind this innovation, Eugene Chen and Miao Hong, have been awarded Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for this new method. If adopted within the industry, this could revamp the manner that plastic bottles are treated and disposed of, making it an almost environmentally neutral system.

How long before plastic bottle manufacturing makes the change or do you think they will continue with the status-quo?