Chemists turned plastic waste into tiny bars of soap

A new technique could one day help turn plastic waste into valuable raw materials

Pieces of soap made from plastic waste are displayed against a blue background. The soap has the color and reflectiveness of beeswax and is cut in various shapes, including a star, a moon and playing card suits.

Researchers developed a process to turn plastic waste into surfactants, the key ingredients in dozens of products, including soap.

Zhen Xu

The time may be coming to wash our hands of plastic trash. Literally.

About 60 percent of all plastic ever made ends up in landfills or littering the environment. Only about one-tenth of plastic waste is ever recycled, and much of that ends up being low-quality material reused in things like park benches (SN: 1/27/21).