The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of California in the US hope to scale up the technique to allow for it to be used in actually reducing plastic trash.

Plastics break down very slowly causing them to pile up in landfills and serving as the source material in artificial island creation in oceans.

Scientists have been looking for ways to degrade plastics, particularly polyethylene, the most common kind produced, but until now have not been able to find inexpensive and scalable means.

The new method involves mixing the plastics with an organometallic catalyst, made from readily available molecules that were then doped with metal iridium, 'Phys.org' reported.

The reaction caused the bonds holding the plastic together to weaken, allowing them to be more easily torn apart.

Researchers were able to use the broken down material to create a diesel-like fuel which they claim could be used to power vehicles and other motors.

Burning the fuel is also cleaner than burning other combustible materials, they said.

The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

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