Recycling polymers to their monomers would enable a circular polymer economy, but this can be challenging, especially for materials with all-carbon backbones. Now, by lowering the strain of cyclooctene through ring fusion, recyclable polymers with useful physical properties can be made by an olefin-metathesis-based route.
Maybe it was seeing a picture of the contents of a bird’s stomach or an image of the North Pacific Gyre. Maybe it was a particular figure in a paper or report. Quite likely there was an accretion of knowledge, entering your consciousness with increasing frequency and stubbornly refusing to go away. Broadly, we have concluded that our production, use and disposal of synthetic polymers has reached a crisis point and needs to change. Resolving any predicament of this scale will require changes in policy and human behaviour, but polymer chemistry also plays a critical role. The synthetic polymers currently used on such a staggering scale mostly came into the world in what seemed to be happy accidents, with little-to-no thought about their end-of-life fates.