Innovation separates multilayer plastics for reuse

Good pre-holiday Tuesday afternoon, everyone. Today will be the last Centered post this week so we can observe Thanksgiving. I’m not going to lie, it stinks not to be with my family this year to share funny and touching stories while shoveling four helpings of my dad’s legendary stuffing into my mouth. But I know it’s more important to keep my loved ones safe and stay home, because due to an unfortunate dead furnace situation I have had potential virus exposures from people coming into my home over the past week. Instead, I will be making my own turkey and fixings this year while reflecting on life and the things I’m thankful for. I hope you all have a restful and happy Thanksgiving as well!

Now, here are today’s Midwest tech headlines, starting with a plastic waste reduction project in Wisconsin.

Today’s headlines:

🥤 PLASTICS: Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered a way to use solvents to reclaim the polymers in multilayer plastic materials, which are prevalent in food and medical product packaging.

  • Current methods on the market are not able to separate these plastics into pure streams so they can be reused. Most of it ends up in landfills or incinerators.
  • This innovation could allow multilayer plastic manufacturers to recover 40% of the plastic waste they produce during manufacturing and packaging.
  • Now that the research team can separate the polymers, it aims to close the recycling loop by using them to make new plastic materials. They also plan to develop a system to identify solvent combinations that can recycle a variety of multilayer plastic types.


  • Ohio Edison and The Illuminating Company, both subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, completed grid modernization projects in Ohio. The companies collectively installed nearly 60 new automated reclosing devices that will automatically shut off power to homes if trouble occurs on the grid, and they will allow utilities to automatically restore service without sending crews to investigate.
  • Energy consultants are recommending a $9.5 billion transmission-plus-storage project that would run from California to Chicago to connect the separate power grids, reports Energy News Network. The Power from the Prairie plan would help the clean energy transition by including wind, solar, and storage and would allow renewables from one region to balance out other regions.

💰 FUNDING: Applications are being accepted for the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. $1 million in prizes is up for grabs for early-stage startups developing technology to solve environmental and social problems. Applications are due Jan. 29.

⚖️ LEGAL: Lawrence, Kansas-based KalScott Engineering will pay more than $670,000 to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to receive Small Business Innovation Research grant funding from NASA, the Air Force, and the Navy, reports KSHB. SBIR grants allow businesses to do work for the federal government to potentially accelerate product commercialization.

💼 JOBS: Remote work is making tech more geographically diverse and Silicon Valley’s lock on the market is loosening, reports Forbes. The article cites remote tech work growth in the Midwest.

🤝 ACQUISITION: St. Louis-based Emerson completed its purchase of 7AC Technologies, a business that develops energy-saving and sustainable air management technologies.


  • The Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) and Milwaukee’s Harbor District are hosting a webinar on Dec. 3 detailing the energy innovation products and services going into the Harbor District project, which is designed to revitalize one of Milwaukee’s South Side neighborhoods.
  • Drive Electric Minnesota and Plug In America are holding a webinar series Dec. 1-4 focused on accelerating electric transportation adoption in 2021.


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