PEP Review 90-3-1
Polyethylene Terephthalate Recycle by Depolymerization
Published: October 1891
Currently, to help alleviate landfill problems, the public and industry are seeking and exploring ways to recycle polyethylene terephthalate beverage containers. It is difficult to recycle PET containers into processes where small impurities contained in the waste materials will affect the purity and properties of the new material. Depolymerizing PET bottles eliminates the possibility of contamination to the new product (which contains recycled material) because the PET is broken down into its constituent monomers-dimethyl terephthalate and ethylene glycol. It is therefore possible to purify these components before recycling them.
While a process for recycling waste has motivation other that ROI (e.g., environmental, and public interest), the PET depolymerization process, which yields a product of high purity, is very expensive for the recycler.