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Sustainable upcycling of plastic waste and wood fibers into high-performance laminated wood-polymer composite via one-step cell collapse and chemical bonding approach

New publication by Ge S, Shi Y, Chen X, Zhou Y, Naushad M, Verma M et al.


The use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic bags leads to environmental pollution and waste residues caused by low recycling and slow degradation rates, which is inconsistent with the international mainstream concept of green development. One of the promising approaches is integrating plastic waste with abundant woody residue in producing value-added composite using novel renewable technology with low energy consumption. Unfortunately, this approach currently has drawbacks, particularly with the resulting composite showing low mechanical properties that in turn limit its applications. Here, we upcycle PVC plastic waste via combined utilization of the PVC debris and wood fibers using a low-energy approach involving one-step cell collapse and chemical bonding, producing a high-performance poplar-PVC composite. Through various tests and characterization, the composite possesses excellent tensile strength (255.71 MPa) and flexural strength (105.39 MPa), high water resistance (water absorption is only 4.87%), and heat and ultraviolet (UV) resistance. The combination of natural wood fibers and PVC debris is a promising new circular economy product from the increasing global amounts of PVC waste is important to meet global goals. In view of the above advantages, poplar-PVC composite has the potential to be a viable candidate material on the road to sustainable development.