Plastics producer DuPont Teijin Films claims to have made a ‘significant step forward’ in developing a chemical recycling process for PET plastic.
The company has today (8 April) announced details of its LuxCR depolymerisation process, which can be used to produce BoPET films, capable of being used across a variety of applications and markets including in food packaging.
The company is exploring whether the material could also be used in rigid plastic applications such as PET bottles and trays.
Chemical recycling is seen as having potential to produce a higher quality output than current mechanical recycling processes.
Some mechanically recovered polymers are also limited in their applications in food contact packaging for example, where end uses are temperature restricted, DuPont Teijin Films said.
DuPont said that though mechanical recycling ‘will continue to play an important role in the circular economy’, there are some “limitations” with regards to the physical and mechanical properties of the recycled product over repeated cycles.
According to DuPont, the LuxCR process involves treating mechanically recovered PET flake, which sees the PET polymer converted back into its monomer unit – BHET – indistinguishable from the material in its virgin form.
The material is then ‘repolymerised’ into a polyester polymer which can subsequently be converted into a wide range of BOPET films.
Contamination is removed during the process through a combination of monomer and polymer filtration units and by vacuum extraction which runs for several hours at temperatures between 270-300°C.
Other recent developments in the chemical recycling field include US chemical firm Eastman’s announcement that it is bringing forward a process to recycle polyester wastes by breaking them down through a process known as ‘methanolysis’ (see letsrecycle.com story).
DuPont Teijin Films