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Time’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019: PureCycle Technologies

Repurposing Plastic

Just 9% of all ­plastic—which almost never fully degrades—has ever been recycled. Because of odors, colors and contaminants, much of what we put in our bins is not reusable. Hoping to remedy this, PureCycle Technologies is using a new method to restore used polypropylene into resin that’s    effectively as good as new. This purification process churns out colorless pellets hygienic enough for even food-grade applications, PureCycle says. And it uses only a fraction of the energy involved in making virgin resin. “We’re actually taking plastic that wouldn’t ever be recycled again and making it indefinitely recyclable,” says Mike Otworth, PureCycle’s CEO. Production is scheduled to start in 2021, but it’s already so popular it’s presold for the next 20 years. —Laignee Barron