Sustainable Plastics

Petroleum-based polymers offer unique strength and versatility. They provide materials for affordable packaging, adhesives, building materials, computer components, and sporting and safety equipment. Durable and stable, these polymers accumulate in the environment. The creation of new plastics that can meet consumer demands without negative ecological and human health consequences is of paramount importance for global society.

Geoffrey Coates, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is part of a multi-institutional team at the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) that is addressing this challenge. The mission of the CSP is to transform how plastics are made, unmade, and remade through innovative research, engaging education, and diverse partnerships that together foster environmental stewardship.

The CSP promotes synergy and collaboration to achieve high-impact research. It also supports translation of innovative research into marketable technologies. To train the next generation of polymer chemists, CSP facilitates educational and professional development opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers.

The center’s key goals include making plastics from renewable resources, using green and sustainable reaction chemistries, and creating plastics for easier and more economic composting or recycling. Partner institutions include Cornell University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of South Dakota.

NSF Award Number: 1901635

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1.5 Million spanning 5 years