Sustainability Bites

Remove2Reclaim: Researching dissolution for styrenic polymers

We are participating in a project in Belgium to research plastics recycling. The project, called “Remove2Reclaim”, started on September 1, 2020 and will continue until August 31, 2023. It is funded by the Flemish agency of innovation and entrepreneurs.

The project focusses on investigating dissolution recycling for styrenic polymers. In this technique, the polymer matrix is first dissolved in a solvent allowing it to release its organic and inorganic additives like fillers, stabilizers and colorants. By filtration and selective precipitation, the styrenics and additives can be selectively separated from the mixture. Hence, this method allows purification of styrenic polymers for recycling purposes. As the polymers remain intact during this process, the energy requirements for this recycling method is favorable over recycling techniques where the polymers are broken apart.

We are participating in the research consortium ‘Remove2Reclaim’ where dissolution recycling of titanium dioxide (TiO2)-rich waste streams is being investigated. TiO2 is used in several applications for its whitening properties, e.g. for casings of electronic and household appliances, window profiles and furniture. Besides us, eight other partners -- four research institutes and four other companies -- are contributing to the project. Among these companies are recyclers, recycling technologies developers, producers of other polymers that also contain TiO2, and a producer of TiO2. Starting from waste, the goal is to retrieve at the end of the chain recycled purified polymers and purified TiO2. Green and low-environmental impact solvents have been targeted for this research.

We plan to investigate the properties of purified high impact polystyrene (HIPS) and ABS after application of the dissolution process and will evaluate the required modifications to bring these product properties again on its virgin level.

Learn more at the Remove2Reclaim project website 

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