Recycling your acrylic

Wherever you are in the world, we all benefit from acrylic - or PMMA - every single day.

 

Now, we’re working on a game-changing project to make this amazing material fully recyclable, fully sustainable and fully circular.

Why now?

 

We’re as concerned as you are by the issue of plastic waste and the terrible effect this has on our planet. Even though acrylic isn’t a “throwaway” plastic, so much more can still be done.

 

It’s our duty to you. As the world’s leading producer of PMMA – and its building block, MMA - we owe it to you to lead the way to a sustainable future. To do more with less.

 

As a group company of Mitsubishi Chemical, we have a word for this aim – KAITEKI.

 

KAITEKI means everything we do is for the sustainable wellbeing of people, society and planet Earth. A circular economy for acrylic is a huge part of achieving it.

Single-use plastic bottle floating in the ocean
Chemical molecules

How will this work?

 

We’re using a process called molecular recycling. It may sound complex, but it’s very simple.

 

Acrylic, or PMMA, will be broken down to its original building block – MMA. This virgin-quality MMA can then be used to create new acrylic from scratch, over and over again.

 

The technology to do this? That comes from our partners at Agilyx in the USA. They already take polystyrene and break it down into its styrene building block, so it’s a similar process for acrylic. The next step is purification, which we will manage with over 25 years of experience of doing it in our existing processes.

 

By 2023, we’re aiming to open a plant in Europe that will take your used acrylic and give it a brand-new life.

What will this mean for me?

 

I’m a waste management company. What can I do with my acrylic waste?

You’ll be able to contact one of our nominated waste management partners who will arrange to collect it from you.

 

Why should I bother separating acrylic from my other waste?

Depending on the quality, we'll either pay you for it or take it away for free (to save you from paying to dispose of it). But most importantly, left un-separated, it will likely be incinerated which is not a sustainable solution. We’ll turn it into brand new acrylic which can be re-used over and over again.

 

Why should I still use plastics when we’ve seen what happens to the oceans?

The key point here is that not all plastics are the same. Some can easily be recycled, others cannot.

 

The plastics you see in the oceans tend to be single-use “throwaway” plastics. Acrylic sits at the opposite end of the spectrum - it can be used for years, even decades, without needing to be thrown away.

 

And now, with our new technology, we’ll soon be able to recycle used or unwanted acrylic back into brand new, truly circular acrylic.

If you’ve got any more questions about this project, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Feel free to get in touch with David Smith, Circular Economy Programme Lead at [email protected].