Can You Recycle Acrylic Plastic? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Given the unique composition of acrylic plastic, you might be wondering if it is possible to recycle products made from this material and if you are environmentally conscious, you are undoubtedly concerned about making sure that you recycle everything you can. 

Therefore, it is important to know how you can do your part to move the world towards a more sustainable future. So continue reading to find out how you can do this in the article below!

Can You Recycle Acrylic Plastic?

While it is not easy to do so, it is possible to recycle many types of acrylic plastics. This is referred to as a Group 7 plastic, meaning that it is in a category not typically collected in the recycling bin. However, there are ways to turn acrylic plastic into a more recyclable-friendly object. 

You will find that many recycling companies across the globe are not equipped to recycle acrylics in their raw form. So, continue reading to learn what you can do with these objects when you are done with them! 

How Do I Recycle Acrylic Plastic?

Since it is categorized as a Group 7 plastic, acrylic cannot easily be recycled. 

This is why it is generally advisable not to put acrylic plastic into a recycling bin, in its raw form. 

Instead, you will need to get a bit creative if you want to find a way to recycle them. 

To begin, you will want to be mindful that part of recycling involves taking one object and turning it into something else that is useful in its own right. 

Furthermore, that is certainly possible with many types of acrylic plastic. You can take the plastic and use them to form other objects as long as they are not showing signs of:

  • Crazing
  • Stress
  • Cracking

Since this type of plastic is not biodegradable, you cannot just send it off to the recycling plant and think that someone else will deal with it properly. 

In fact, some types are acrylic plastic are quite flammable.

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As such, you will want to make sure that you keep them away from areas that are breeding grounds for combustion. 

Now, it is helpful to understand what form of acrylic plastic can be recycled.

One of the main types of acrylics is PMMA and there are several different ways that you can recycle this type of plastic, all of which will involve turning resin into pyrolysis. 

Additionally, it is well within the realm of possibility to recover the monomer that is in the PMMA scrap pieces of plastic by putting it through a depolymerization process. 

Many recycling plants have shown great success in using this process by putting molten lead in contact with the PMMA. 

Furthermore, this leads to a new MMA chemical composition that is more than 98% pure. 

The only issue with what has been described here is the use of lead. 

As you are probably aware, the world is moving away from using lead in any chemical process because it is not environmentally friendly in its own right. 

However, for now, this is the only process available to recycle acrylic plastics, but new ways of doing so without lead are currently in the research stage. 

What Materials are Acrylic Plastic Made Of?

Acrylic plastic is synthetic, meaning that humans make it. This is a class of plastics that have in common the fact that they are made out of one or more acrylic acid derivatives. 

It is important to know that the most commonly used acrylic plastic-type is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). You will probably recognize this better as one of the following:

  • Plexiglas
  • Lucite
  • Perspex
  • Crystallite

Therefore, knowing what type of acrylic plastic you have will help you determine how best to recycle it. 

Additionally, when you have PMMA, there are many different ways that you can reuse the plastic and have it form the basis for many useful objects. 

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Is Acrylic Plastic Biodegradable?

Is Acrylic Plastic Biodegradable?

In general, acrylic plastic is not biodegradable as it is a man-made material. 

Therefore, it is important to do whatever possible to reuse the object in the construction of another or use it to break down the chemicals to produce a usable form of MMA. 

Just throwing acrylic plastic in a landfill will do little to support the cause of sustainability. 

How do I Reuse and Upcycle Acrylic Plastic?

There are many different ways that you can recycle and reuse acrylic plastic. 

Additionally, the resulting PMMA sheets are useful in a variety of industries and for several different purposes. Some of the more commonly cited are as follows:

  • Construction – There are many ways that builders can use acrylic plastic in construction projects. They can form the basis for soundproof windows and doors. PMMA is also useful in windows and mining masks. 
  • Medical – Recycled acrylic plastic can be used in the manufacture of baby incubators. Various types of acrylics are used for several different medical devices used in surgery. 
  • Public goods and services – Some of the more notable ways that acrylics can be used in this sector include a variety of handicrafts, sanitary materials, cosmetics, and frames. 
  • Lighting – It is amazing to consider the realm of possibility in this regard, as this type of plastic can be reused and placed in fluorescent lamps, chandeliers, and street lamps. 
  • Marketing – You can even recycle acrylic plastic and use it in the making of signs, lighted placards, and during trade exhibitions. 
  • Transportation – You will also find that you can use recycled acrylic plastic in the manufacture of cars, trains, and many other vehicles. 

These are just a few of the many ways that you can reuse and upcycle acrylic plastic.

Additionally, by ensuring that the plastic in your home gets properly recycled, you will be contributing to the construction of many objects that are more sustainable as a result. 

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Where Can I Recycle Acrylic Plastic?

The typical recycling plant is not able to handle acrylic plastic. 

So incase you can’t reuse your acrylic plastic, you will want to seek out companies in your area that can use a chemical process to convert the PMMA.

This way, the plastic can be turned into something that can be recycled and used again in another industry. 

Is Acrylic Plastic Bad for the Environment? 

You might think that since acrylic plastic is not biodegradable that it must be bad for the environment. 

That would be a logical assumption, but it is not necessarily true. 

As long as you do not throw acrylic plastic into a landfill, it can be considered an environmentally friendly product. 

Therefore, Acrylic plastic is not inherently bad for the environment because of the number of ways that it can be reused.

Even if the original object is no longer useful, there are many opportunities to turn it into other things.

In many circles, this is what makes acrylic plastic an environmentally friendly alternative to many other items that cannot be used multiple times. 

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle liquor bottles, whether you can recycle laundry detergent bottles, and whether you can recycle Kraft paper.

Conclusion 

While it might take some work, you will find that it is possible to recycle many types of acrylic plastic. Although not every object can be broken down, it is certainly within your capability to reduce the impact on your area’s landfills by reusing it for something else.

Furthermore, this article has also given you the tools and idea’s on how to reuse your acrylic plastic for something new and useful. 

Author

  • Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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