IBM researchers have developed a new recycling process, dubbed VolCat, which digests certain plastics into a substance that can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products.
VolCat is a catalytic chemical process, which holds capacity to turn PET into a renewable resource. The PET is said to be a type of plastic generally used in food packaging and polyester clothing.
The new technology is part of IBM’s annual 5 in 5 predictions describing five innovations that can help change lives in next five years.
According to IBM, more than 272 million metric tons of plastic is currently produced per annum across the globe with one-quarter of that made up of PET.
The VolCat process will use an accurate combination of chemicals, heat and pressure to reduce the amount of plastic, helping to decrease the amount of waste produced.
IBM noted that innovations such as VolCat will enable to completely transform the disposal of trash and the creation of new plastics.
Products ranging from milk cartons to cookie containers to grocery bags and cheese cloths will be recyclable, and polyester manufacturing companies will gather refuse and turn it into useful products, said the company.
Other innovations include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to digitize and capture all aspects of agriculture ranging from the quality of the soil to the rice of melon sold at the market. The digital twin will help to accurately forecast crop yields in the coming years.
The use of blockchain technology, IoT devices, and AI algorithms will help minimize the waste across the food supply chain.
The new technique being developed will help analyze millions of microbes, and find healthy microbes, suitable for human consumption, to introduce into foods at farms, factories, and grocery stores.
IBM researchers are also working to develop portable AI sensors, which can detect foodborne pathogens at home.