• An estimated 6.3 billion metric tons of post-consumer polymer waste has been produced,
    with the majority (79%) in landfills or the environment. Recycling methods that utilize these
    waste polymers could attenuate their environmental impact. For many polymers, recycling via
    mechanical processes is not feasible and these materials are destined for landfills or incineration.
    One salient example is the superabsorbent material used in diapers and feminine
    hygiene products, which contain crosslinked sodium polyacrylates. Here we report an openloop
    recycling method for these materials that involves (i) decrosslinking via hydrolysis, (ii)
    an optional chain-shortening via sonication, and (iii) functionalizing via Fischer esterification.
    The resulting materials exhibit low-to-medium storage and loss moduli, and as such, are
    applicable as general-purpose adhesives. A life cycle assessment demonstrates that the
    adhesives synthesized via this approach outcompete the same materials derived from petroleum
    feedstocks on nearly every metric, including carbon dioxide emissions and cumulative
    energy demand.

  • Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA



    Copyright: © The Author(s) 2021

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