As landfills overflow with discarded plastics, scientists have been working to produce an environment friendly biodegradable alternative. A research team from Tel Aviv University is giving the quest for environmentally friendly plastics an entirely new dimension - by making them tougher than ever before. Prof. Moshe Kol of TAU's School of Chemistry is developing a super-strength polypropylene that has the potential to replace steel and other materials in many industries including automotive. Durable plastics consume less energy during the production process, explains the professor, and will result in end products that would be lighter overall and consume less fuel besides being cheaper and providing a much more affordable manufacturing alternative. The research believes that the answer to biodegradable plastics mimicing the durability and resilience of non-biodegradable plastics like polypropylene, could lie in the catalysts, the chemicals that enable their production. Plastics consist of very long chains called polymers, made of simple building blocks assembled in a repeating pattern. Polymerization catalysts are responsible for connecting these building blocks and create a polymer chain. The better the catalyst, the more orderly and well-defined the chain - leading to a plastic with a higher melting point and greater strength and durability. This is why the catalyst is a crucial part of the plastic production process. The team has succeeded in developing a new catalyst for the polypropylene production process, ultimately producing the strongest version of the plastic that has been created to date. With their catalyst, the researchers have produced the most accurate or "regular" polypropylene ever made, reaching the highest melting point to date. Cheaper and more efficient to produce in terms of energy consumption, as well as non-toxic, the new polypropylene is good news for green manufacturing and could revolutionize the industry. The durability of the material results in products that require less maintenance and a much longer life for parts made from the plastic.