A new type of plastic could change how we think of greenhouse gases – as a resource instead of an environmental foe.
It’s a simple supply-and-demand question that hasn’t before been brought to bear on environmental issues: if you have an abundance of a certain raw material (in this case, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere), why not try to make something out of it? Even better, what if that product begins to replace the harmful processes that led to the release of the raw material in the first place? The office chair you’re sitting in could perhaps one day be one of the forerunners in the fight against the greenhouse gases changing the climate on Earth.
How might that work? A new type of high-performance thermoplastic, AirCarbon, has come to the market, and apparently it’s carbon-neutral, actually removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere as it’s manufactured. The company responsible for this patented process is California-based Newlight Technologies, which has figured out how to remove carbon and oxygen from greenhouse gases and convert it into a long-chain thermopolymer. The product lines chosen to use the product in their manufacture will be the Strive and the Grazie, sold by an international furniture company called KI. If these aren’t the most sexy or out-there of designs, that’s probably okay, as their low-key looks, and the fact that KI mostly sells to businesses, schools and other institutions, means the plastic could rapidly be used in large amounts and achieve enough of a market saturation to really make a difference.
Best of all, AirCarbon’s cost actually compares favorably with many other plastics, creating an even stronger incentive for companies to make the switch. It’s this perfect storm of appealing qualities that might make us see plastic completely differently in the future.