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These Companies Are Trying to Reinvent Recycling

  • Steep investment is needed to return waste to chemicals
  • ‘Chop and Wash’ can’t meet growing demand for recycled resins
Debating Why Recycling Is So Hard: Faye Flam and Adam Minter
Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

Plastic recycling is evolving. The next step will be more like reincarnation.

At least 60 chemical companies are racing to develop technology that can return trash to its original hydrocarbon ingredients, according to a report Tuesday. The process -- call it the unmaking of plastic -- creates clean, virgin resin that can be used for new products, avoiding the need to pump oil for endless fresh batches.