In my career as a chemist, I owe a huge debt to serendipity. In 2012 I was in the right place (IBM’s Almaden research laboratory in California) at the right time—and I did the “wrong” thing. I was supposed to be mixing three ingredients in a beaker in the hope of creating a known material. The goal was to replace one of the usual ingredients with a version derived from plastic waste, in an effort to increase the sustainability of strong plastics called thermoset polymers.