Chemicals, food and other odors are often sold in recyclable plastic containers, but sometimes the absorption of odors makes them unsuitable for recycling, foreign media reported.
But now there's a new way to get rid of them.
The technology, developed by Andres Fullana and researcher Andrea Cabanes from the university of alicante in Spain, is reported to help remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from plastic containers that are absorbed by the polymer matrix in the plastic.
The researchers say the process is not currently possible with traditional cleaning and recycling methods.
Fullana's team first sorted, separated and pre-treated used plastic containers, then crushed them into small particles, then chemically washed them with a special soap, rinsed them and dried them.
Finally, odor removal is accomplished through the "steam distillation" step.
Steam distillation is the process of passing steam through a material in a tower.
As the steam rises, it takes away the VOCs from the material.
Later, when the steam condenses in the collection bottle, the VOCs liquid water can be separated and processed.
That said, the process can also be used to obtain useful products, such as essential oils distilled from plant leaves.
Fullana's technology was recently patented, and five companies have expressed interest in commercializing it.