Is Polycarbonate Recyclable?

Polycarbonate is everywhere. It is fast becoming one of the most versatile materials in the world. Manufacturers from various industries now use them for an extensive range of things. They are instrumental in the agricultural sector, food industry, security industry and many others.

For instance, we bet you didn’t know that items like your mobile phones, computer casings, water bottles, and many other household items are made from polycarbonate or have polycarbonate components in them. That is just how versatile they are.

Polycarbonate-sheets

We can use them for virtually anything; however, these items are not built to last forever. The sturdiness of polycarbonate may be able to prolong their lifespans, but they will eventually have to be upgraded or disposed of.

Now, how do you go about disposing of them? Do you have thoughts about recycling them? Well, we have designed this blog post to help you answer every question you may have about recycling polycarbonate if you can and other alternatives to recycling. So, dive in!

Can you Recycle Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is made from plastic. Therefore, you can say it is a special type of plastic that allows for versatility. Polycarbonate can be compared to glass in that they are both translucent; the difference is that the former is made from plastic while the latter is made from sand.

Polycarbonate is a lightweight translucent type of plastic, and we can use it for a wide range of things. We bet you didn’t know that it is one of the components used in making bullet-proof glass.

Plastic water bottles are made from polycarbonate, and the same goes for windows and some of your translucent doors. So, of course, you would have to dispose of some of these items at one point or the other. Which begs the question, “how?”

Well, here goes. You can recycle your items that contain polycarbonate or that are entirely made from polycarbonate. What makes polycarbonate so special is that it can be heated till it gets to its melting point without losing its value.

When most plastics are heated to their melting point, a chemical reaction is activated, which makes it impossible for these plastics to be reshaped or reused. At this melting point, they become entirely useless.

However, polycarbonate stands out. When polycarbonate is heated to its melting point, it melts to a liquid form which can be shaped into a new object. The endgame of recycling is to make new items out of our old ones, and polycarbonate fits directly into that description.

So when next you have a couple of polycarbonate items to dispose of, don’t hesitate to march down to your local recycling center to have it done there. You may also use a recycling locator to find the one closest to you.

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Is Polycarbonate Biodegradable?

For biodegradation to occur, the item has to be susceptible to decomposition by microorganisms. Beyond decomposition, the amount of time that item needs before it gets broken down also determines its biodegradability.

Most items that are biodegradable require a short time, while non-biodegradable ones typically require decades at least. A great example is a polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is made from plastic, and like most plastics, it is not biodegradable.

Binning your polycarbonate items is never a good idea because they cannot decompose. What happens is that they end up at landfills and take several decades to get broken down into smaller pieces.

Even when this happens, they never entirely go away. They remain as tiny particles which can be pretty harmful to the environment. So please, ensure that you dispose of your polycarbonate items properly, preferably by recycling them.

Is Polycarbonate Environmentally Friendly?

If you are wondering if polycarbonate is environmentally friendly, we have got you covered. Well, we can say it is relatively environmentally friendly. It certainly checks off some of the requirements for environmentally friendly materials.

For one, it is highly sustainable. Polycarbonate is a plastic substance that can be heated to its melting point, and at this point, it can be reshaped and repurposed. This is an excellent attribute because it means that we can recycle our polycarbonate items.

Some plastics cannot be recycled and have to be thrown into the bin. So what happens here is that the binned plastic ends up in landfills and doesn’t get completely broken down.

Before plastics get decomposed, it takes a very long time, sometimes several decades. It gets even worse because the slow decomposition process results in releasing some harmful toxins into the atmosphere. Thus, these plastics not only cause environmental pollution but also pollute the atmosphere.

The upside is that we can recycle polycarbonate, so it doesn’t need to go through this process. We can recycle it over and over again; it was deliberately engineered that way.

Now, here’s something else to note when deciding if a material is environmentally friendly. Does the production process result in environmental pollution? For example, some materials require rigorous manufacturing processes, which in turn would require excessive fuel consumption.

Of course, burning fuel means that smoke and other toxic gases would be released into the environment. In addition, the waste chemicals that remain from the manufacturing process most times aren’t disposed of properly too, so these factors end up polluting our environment.

Well, we can say that since polycarbonate meets the sustainability test, it is environmentally friendly. Also, since we can recycle it, production occurs only occasionally, so we don’t have to worry about constant environmental pollution.

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Is Polycarbonate Toxic?

It is perfectly normal to wonder if a material that we regularly come in contact with is toxic. For example, polycarbonate is used to make many plastics we use to pack our foods and water, so is it harmful to us?

It depends. BPA is a chemical that manufacturers use to make plastics. Of course, it is a harmful chemical, and when it comes in contact with our food, it can be pretty disastrous.

However, manufacturers now refrain from using this chemical for items that we bring in contact with our food and drinks. You have to be careful, though, because not all manufacturers are conscious of this. In addition, it gets worse when these containers are heated; the chemical gets even more active.

Polycarbonate is safe when the BPA levels used in manufacturing it is low. When it is low, it can cause little to no harm to you. However, you may choose to opt for items that are BPA-free.

If you absolutely have to use polycarbonate items, you can help yourself by refraining from heating them if they will end up coming in contact with your mouth or internal organs.

Aside from the BPA, polycarbonate can be toxic to the environment if left untended or disposed of wrongly. It’s made from plastic, and plastic can be pretty harmful to the environment. So even though polycarbonate was designed to be highly sustainable, if it is not disposed of properly, we may be harming our environment in the long run.

What Can You Do With Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is the perfect recyclable material. In fact, it is always quite welcome at recycling centers because its value does not reduce even when it has been recycled repeatedly.

However, there are also other environmentally friendly options for disposing of these materials. We are confident that you will have the time of your life trying out the hacks we have for you. Don’t hesitate to get creative.

1. CD Coasters

We bet you didn’t know that CDs are made from polycarbonate. Well, now you know, and here’s a mind-blowing hack for your old CDs.

You can turn your old CDs into coasters. You would need a glue gun, soft and light fabric and a pair of scissors to shape the fabric. It’s a fun and relatively easy hack, and you would enjoy every moment of it.

These coasters also make great gift items, so don’t hesitate to gift them to your family and friends.

2. Homemade Decorative Tiles

You can cut your old CDs into uneven pieces and attach them to surfaces in your house. It’s an awesome decorative hack that helps you get rid of unwanted CDs without harming your environment.

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It would help if you had a pair of string scissors and a glue gun for this hack. Be sure to leave the shiny part of the CDs facing up. That’s the fascinating thing about this particular hack. You can attach the pieces to tables, picture frames and even door frames.

3. Garden Markers

The option of cutting your old water bottles into even shapes and sizes to use as garden markers is always there. It would be best to have a pair of strong scissors, some paint and a sharpie to label the markers.

Again, this is also a fantastic gift idea. If you don’t have a garden, surely you have a couple of friends who do. You can cut up these bottles and give your friends. Just be sure to leave the garden markers unlabeled and let them handle it themselves.

4. Flower Pots

Flowers are lovely ornaments. The best part is that you can plant them anywhere, give them a good supply of air, sunlight and water, and they will blossom. Of course, you can also transplant them, which is where your old polycarbonate bottle comes in.

You can cut these bottles into the sizes you desire, add some loamy soil and plant your flower buds in them. You can take this hack a step further by hanging these pots at systematic places in your house. They have a rustic feel to them, and everyone would commend you for it.

5. Greenhouse

Greenhouses are usually made from polycarbonate. Now, if you have a couple of polycarbonate windows in your house and are looking to upgrade or simply change them, then you can transform them into a greenhouse instead.

However, if you are not handy with tools, you would need the help of a handyman.

6. Donate Them

You can choose to donate items like computer casings, polycarbonate water bottles, food containers, and other items you don’t want anymore. You never have to worry about not getting anyone to take them off your hands because people would always need these things.

That you have grown out of them and need a change doesn’t mean others do too. So be on the lookout for friends, family or even random strangers that may require the items you are looking to dispose of.

Conclusion

The extreme versatility of polycarbonate means that we simply cannot do without them. Therefore, it won’t come as a surprise to find that we have many items made from polycarbonate in our households. For this reason, it is only logical that we find ways to dispose of them properly.

You can recycle polycarbonate items and resort to recycling only after trying out the awesome repurpose ideas we have cooked up for you. So please read up, and stay informed.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331

https://www.creativemechanisms.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-polycarbonate-pc

http://www.bystephanielynn.com/2012/04/25-things-to-do-with-empty-plastic-bottles-water-soda-bottle-crafts-saturday-inspiration-ideas.html

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.