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TROY CMMS research to improve medical plastics recycling

Medical plastics recycling to help meet increased demand for PPE equipment

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Troy University's Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences has announced new research aimed to bolster production of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for healthcare workers and create new avenues for the recycling of medical industry plastic waste.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has put in stark focus the need for increased production of PPEs for medical professionals. Dr. Govind Menon, Director of the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, said TROY researchers are looking at new ways to produce PPEs from polymers as a means to increase production and help prepare for future threats.

"The current pandemic has shown the crucial need to increase the nation's production capacity in regards protective equipment for our medical professionals," Menon said. "At TROY, we are committing to researching new methods for producing polymer-based PPEs in preparation for future medical threats."

In addition, the Center has started research into methods for recycling medical plastics. Healthcare facilities in the U.S. generate more than 14,000 tons of medical waste  each day, with up to 25 percent of the amount consisting of plastic packaging or products, according to industry sources

Currently that plastic waste ends up in landfills or incinerators, Menon said, but the Center is researching methods to recycle that waste for non-medical uses.

"Medical plastics are high-quality virgin plastics that are being incinerated for fear of contamination," Menon said. "We believe it's possible to recycle this plastic and remove any threat of contamination to create useful, high-grade plastics for non-medical uses. This would be a huge reduction in waste."

Founded in 2018 with support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, TROY's Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences is a fully integrated multi-disciplinary research facility focusing on research into polymers and polymer recycling.

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