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Trinseo Opens PMMA Recycling Plant in Italy

The depolymerization technology enables recycling of PMMA sheets, which cannot be mechanically recycled.


June 28, 2024

2 Min Read
Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Trinseo's chemical recycling plant
image courtesy of Trinseo

Global materials supplier Trinseo took another step toward meeting its ambitious sustainability goals with the official opening of its polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) depolymerization facility in Rho, Italy, on June 25. The pilot plant advances next-generation recycling technology for acrylics and is aligned with Trinseo's 2030 Sustainable Product Portfolio Goals, the company said in a news release.

In addition to supporting Trinseo’s sustainability goals, the investment in new recycling technologies also supports customers in reaching their goals, stressed Trinseo’s Senior Vice President of Engineered Materials and Chief Sustainability Officer Francesca Reverberi.

High-purity recyclate rivals virgin resin.

The chemical recycling, aka depolymerization, process returns acrylic polymers to their methyl methacrylate (MMA) constituent monomers. The chemical process enables recycling of acrylic products, including PMMA sheets, which cannot be mechanically recycled. The high-purity recyclate reportedly is comparable in performance to virgin materials. Additionally, returning the material to its monomer form allows additives and contaminants to be removed from pre- and post-consumer acrylic products. This enables more PMMA to be recycled, according to Trinseo.

Related:Trinseo Develops PFAS-free Flame-retardant PC, PC/ABS

End-use applications for the recycled acrylic include vehicle taillights and RV windows, where optical quality is a requirement. 

New value chain for PMMA waste.

The depolymerization technology leverages findings from the MMAtwo Consortium, a collaborative initiative funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The consortium was formed to develop a new value chain for pre- and post-consumer PMMA and a versatile recycling process for converting this waste into high-quality regenerated monomer and achieving a carbon footprint reduction versus virgin resin.   

“Depolymerization expands our recycled feedstock capabilities, which, in turn, will help us innovate new solutions,” said Trinseo Chief Technology Officer Han Hendriks. “With this new capability, we can build a more robust recycled acrylics portfolio to better meet the evolving needs of our customers.” 

Trinseo said it will use the recycled MMA (rMMA) produced at the plant in its Altuglas and Plexiglas R-Life product portfolios. 

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