A breakthrough by IBM and Stanford University scientists could lead to a new way to make PET plastic continuously recyclable. When recycling conventional PET, the metal in the polymer degrades the material, making it unlikely that it’ll be used for the same purpose, or recycled a second time. The IBM/Stanford discovery, which improves the quality of recycled plastic, could give new life to the 13 billion plastic bottles that are thrown away each year in the United States, according to scientists who said the technology could be commercially viable within five years if a pilot, currently underway, goes well.