Plastic waste is a mess. Disposal in landfill is the worst option but recycling post-consumer plastic waste presents a technological nightmare given the huge range of polymers used in packaging and products. A rapid, online method of identifying the different plastics in a recycling stream would provide a way to sort them and allow recycling plants to operate far more efficiently and perhaps make plastic recycling commercially viable.
A technique being investigated by Spanish researchers to this end is laser-induced plasma spectroscopy (LIPS). Jesús Anzano, María-Esther Casanova, María-Soledad Bermúdez, and Roberto-Jesús Lasheras of the Laser Analytical Spectroscopy Lab at the University of Zaragoza, in Spain, have now demonstrated that LIPS used in conjunction with a simple statistical correlation method can indeed differentiate between plastics prior to recycling.
Recycle the full story here