Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Upcycling polystyrene with oxygen and light

Scalable and efficient chemical recycling of commodity polymeric materials remains a challenge as the materials continually accumulate in the environment. Now, upcycling of polystyrene into benzoic acid and other value-added chemicals is realized under mild photooxidation conditions, with hydrogen atom transfer as the key step.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Upcycling commercial polystyrene materials by photooxidation using flow techniques.


  1. Rahimi, A. & García, J. M. Nat. Rev. Chem. 1, 0046 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Korley, L. T. J., Epps, T. H. III, Helms, B. A. & Ryan, A. J. Science 373, 66–69 (2021).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Oh, S. & Stache, E. E. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 144, 5745–5749 (2022).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Huang, Z. et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 144, 6532–6542 (2022).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Grassie, N. & Weir, N. A. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 9, 987–998 (1965).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bandyopadhyay, A. & Basak, G. C. Mater. Sci. Technol. 23, 307–314 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Shang, J., Chai, M. & Zhu, Y. Environ. Sci. Technol. 37, 4494–4499 (2003).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Will R. Gutekunst.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Xu, M., Gutekunst, W.R. Upcycling polystyrene with oxygen and light. Nat. Synth 1, 508–509 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing