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Vitrim Recycling System
In the year 2017, the US used around 2,960,000 tons of plastic(Plastics: Material). In today's society a large part of industry in America has a plastic component, usually, a specific type called polyethylene. The electronic industry, automobile industry, chemical industry are just a few examples where plastics are utilized. However, another industry that relies heavily on the efficiency of plastic is the medical and pharmaceutical market. The US healthcare systems are in heavy use of products such as gloves, scrubs, masks, drapes, and many of the machinery. However, only about 10% of polyethylene products can be recycled into something usable. The reason for this is that polyethylene and other plastics when recycled turn into small gray beads. Not only is the process expensive but the product is not as efficient then the original product. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of medical products being used both for the public and in hospitals have skyrocketed. This adds to the almost 3 billion tons with 296,000 tons being recycled. This is where vitrimer enters the picture.
Vitrimer is a plastic that retains all of the useful qualities of polyethylene however is much more efficient to recycle, only needing an acid to break it down at room temperature(Fox). After breaking it down to its most basic components, it can then be produced again into another product with the same amount of usability as in its first form. The process of breaking down vitrimer is also much cheaper and creates the same strength as it did in its first use. The result of this is a form of plastic of which you can get much more uses than you ever could with a substance such as polyethylene.
The system I propose is a way of using vitrimer within the medical system of which it is recycled from least to most complex equipment in a hospital-labeled the Vitrimer Recycling System. Here is the process of which a “unit” of vitrimer plastic could be used:
Phase 1: The first use of an order of Vitrimer would be used in small, non-complex, and disposable pieces
Phase 2: The second use will be made for components that require higher volume in a non-complex form
Patient bed frames
Virus or hazardous protection gear
Phase 3: The final uses will be made into the most complex and highest volume machinery used in the hospital
The reason for recycling Vitrimer products from least to most complex is that less complex devices are more disposable. This allows plastic things such as gloves that have little more than one use to be eventually broken down and reused into machinery that is rarely thrown away.
With a system such as this being put into hospitals it can hopefully lead to less plastic waste being put into the environment and a greener more self sufficient America both during these trying times and after COVID-19 passes.
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