Is Acrylic Plastic Recyclable?
When you see roof windows, screens, and lenses, the first thing that will come to mind is glass. However, it may not be glass; it can be acrylic plastic. Acrylic plastic is a transparent plastic that is being used to replace the glass. Acrylic has better characteristics than glass, including glare reflection, scratch resistance, solar reflectivity, and anti-fogging.
Acrylic plastic is also referred to as plexiglass, and when compared with a glass of equal thickness, it weighs fifty percent less. Acrylic plastic is one of the clearest materials, with a transparency rate of ninety-three percent. It is ten times more durable than glass and is unlikely to break.
If you have acrylic plastic you do not need, what do you do with it? You need to find a proper way to dispose of them. One of the best and most environmentally friendly ways will be to recycle it. This blog post will provide you with the knowledge you need to dispose of acrylic plastic properly. So, relax, and enjoy as you read.
Can You Recycle Acrylic?
Like all types of plastic, acrylic plastic is a polymer. This means it is made up of many molecules linked together in the form of a chain. Polymers have properties that are different from their molecular parts. The process of producing polymers is known as polymerization.
Since acrylic is a form of plastic, you might be wondering if it is recyclable. Acrylic plastic can be recycled. However, like fiberglass, most recycling companies do not recycle acrylic plastic. The process of producing acrylic and the materials used to produce acrylic make it difficult to recycle.
Acrylic plastic is classified as Group #7 plastic. Plastics classified as Group #7 are not always recycled, and they end up in landfills or are incinerated.
Acrylic plastic polymers are produced when a catalyst, like organic peroxide, is reacted with a monomer, like methyl methacrylate. There are three forms of acrylic plastic, and these forms are produced in different ways using different products. Flat sheet acrylic, molding powder, and elongated shapes.
To recycle acrylic plastic, it has to go through the process of depolymerization. The resin is taken through pyrolysis. Molten lead is added to the acrylic plastic, which separates the methyl methacrylate from the catalyst, and the purity of the MMA is about ninety-eight percent.
This process is very difficult and dangerous, hence why only a few recycling companies recycle acrylic plastic. So, you need to check for recycling centers around you that recycle acrylic plastic, instead of taking it to any recycling company.
Is Acrylic Biodegradable?
Biodegradable products are products that bacteria and other microorganisms can break down. Any item that can decompose or decay through the actions of living organisms is termed biodegradable. So, the question is, can living organisms break down acrylic plastic?
The answer is no; acrylic plastic is not biodegradable. It is a form of plastic, and plastic does not decompose. The materials used to manufacture acrylic plastic are artificial, and man is yet to discover how to produce synthetic products that are biodegradable. It will take approximately 200 years for acrylic plastic to decompose.
When acrylic plastic is dumped in landfills, it lies there for a long time, slowly releasing greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals into the environment. These gases and chemicals affect the air, the bodies of water, and the surrounding environment. They make the air toxic; if inhaled, it can cause respiratory dysfunctions.
Can You Melt Acrylic Plastic?
Since acrylic plastic is more durable than glass and does not shatter, you would want to if it can be melted or burned. Incineration is one of the ways plastics are disposed of in large quantities, although it is not a sustainable and environmentally friendly disposal method.
Acrylic plastic can melt, but only when the temperature is above 160° Celsius (320° Fahrenheit). At temperatures lower than this, acrylic plastic softens and becomes malleable. The only time you can melt acrylic plastic is if you want to mold a new product.
The melting degree of acrylic plastic is so high that there is no risk of anything melting it in a normal household. However, you need to take safety precautions and never place acrylic plastic directly next to or on a hot surface or an open flame. Although acrylic plastic has a high melting point, this does not mean it is not flammable.
Using a heat gun will not melt acrylic plastic; it will only soften it. You can use an oven to melt acrylic plastic, but you need to be cautious. First, heat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit, then unwrap the acrylic plastic from the protective sheets.
Set the timer for the oven; once it is at 300°, place the acrylic on aluminum foil on the baking sheet. Remove the acrylic from the oven, and mold it to what you want. The fumes generated from melting acrylic plastic have no known hazards, so it is safe to melt it, but you must wear protective clothing.
Is Acrylic Plastic Sustainable?
Over the years, we have come to see the impact our activities have on the environment. And this has caused us to turn to use sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials in production to reduce our impact on the environment. The question is, are acrylic plastics sustainable?
Acrylic plastics are not sustainable, from the production of acrylic plastic to its usage and disposal. To produce 1 kilogram of acrylic plastic, approximately 2 kilograms of oil is required, and about 5.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
The fossil materials used to produce acrylic glass are not sustainable; when sunlight hits the fossil materials, it releases carbon dioxide particles into the air. When there is too much carbon dioxide in the air, the planet overheats, resulting in intense floods, rainstorms, prolonged droughts, heat waves, severe wildfires, crop failures, and insect outbreaks.
Polymerization, the process of producing acrylic plastic, requires pressure, energy, and heat. These are used in excess, and it is bad for the environment. The materials used are also dangerous to human health; when the vapor is inhaled, or the particles come in contact with the skin, it can result in different health complications.
Remember, we said acrylic plastic is not biodegradable, so when it is dumped in landfills, it takes a very long time to decompose. And as it decomposes, it releases toxins into the environment. These toxins pose a huge threat to the safety of humans, organisms, and plants in the environment.
Since acrylic plastic is not sustainable, scientists have been advocating for reducing the production and use of acrylic plastic. However, this is not happening anytime soon because a better, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly alternative to acrylic plastic has not been found yet.
What Can You Do With Scrap Acrylic?
There are two efficient and environmentally-friendly methods of disposing of old items, recycling and upcycling. These two methods are similar; the only difference is the process it requires. Recycling involves breaking the item into molecular form and producing a new item. But upcycling is reusing an item in a way that creates a new item of higher quality.
1. Garden Greenhouse
If you have old acrylic lying around your home, you can create a greenhouse if you have a garden. Acrylic plastic has the two most essential properties every greenhouse material must possess, durability and transparency. Durability to protect the garden against rough weather and transparency to provide clear light.
Acrylic plastic does not accumulate dirt, so you have a steady flow of sunlight into the greenhouse, regardless of the weather conditions. You need some tools and materials to make a greenhouse.
They include the structural hardware (the nuts, bolts, screws, and brackets), tape measure, drill driver, hammer, screwdriver, circular saw, the foundation, the ventilation, cooling, and heating system. Click on this link to learn how to make a greenhouse using acrylic plastic.
2. New Acrylic Sheets
If you have a large amount of old or scrap acrylic plastic, you can use them to make new sheets. It is a bonus if the acrylics are of different colors. To do this, you need to put all the acrylic plastics in a shredder to shred them. Then, you should put the shredded acrylic into a sheet press bed.
Ensure you distribute the shredded acrylic evenly across the press bed. Then, place it into a heater. Heat it to 200° Celsius to melt the acrylic, bring it out of the hater after about an hour, and you have yourself a beautifully designed new acrylic plastic.
3. Support Shelf
Another cool thing you can use scrap acrylic to make is a support shelf. To produce a support shelf, the first thing to do is cut the acrylic plastic into as many small square shapes as possible. You can use colored acrylic and transparent acrylics for added effects.
Stack the sheets together to the height you want the columns of the shelf to be, make about eight stacks. Run some acrylic cement down the sides of the stacks to hold them in place. Depending on the size of the top surface, glue some large sheets to the stacks. You have designed a support shelf.
4. LED Light
You can also use scrap acrylic plastics to create impressive LED lights to beautify and lighten up your living room and bedroom. You need some acrylic plastics in square shape form, preferably transparent, but you can also use colored plastics. Regardless of the type of plastic you use, it must have a thickness between 6 to 8 mm.
You also need a mini drill grinder and stencil for the light design. Place the stencil design on the acrylic sheet and tape it on all sides. Use the mini drill to engrave the design on the acrylic sheet. Ensure you do not add too much pressure when grinding. After grinding the design on the sheet, remove the stencil, and clean the acrylic sheet gently with a soft cloth.
Using a wooden block, cut a groove in the center so that you can put the acrylic sheet as a base. You can use any material you have; you should ensure it can support the acrylic sheet. Cut a strip light equal to the length of the base, glue the strip to the groove of the block. Apply glue to the top of the light strip, place the acrylic sheet, and press it firmly.
Connect it to a light source, and watch the beautiful design glow. You can have as many designs as you want.
It is almost difficult to imagine our world without plastic; we use plastic for many things, in our homes, schools, offices, every place we can think of. Since most plastics are not sustainable, we have to ensure we dispose of them properly. The production of most plastics is harmful to the environment already, so we should not increase the damage done.
If you have some acrylic plastic you want to dispose of, this blog post was curated to show you the best environmentally-friendly way to dispose of them. So, take your time to read and understand.