A European project aimed at developing an economically feasible method to successfully recycle PMMA is currently testing a solution based on thermal depolymerisation. The technology being used was originally developed and patented by Japan Steel Works.
The project, called MMAtwo was launched in 2018 and has 13 participants. The first contact with JSW was in 2017, when, interested in JSW’s patent, PMMA-manufacturer Arkema contacted the company.
JSW soon joined the newly-established consortium as the key technology provider for depolymerisation. Its Düsseldorf-based Europe Extrusion Technical Centre, equipped with a modified TEX44αIII twin-screw extruder, is now being used to run a series of PMMA depolymerisation tests. The first trial set-up was at the Technical Centre in June 2020.
PMMA, also known as acrylic glass, has excellent optical and physical properties. It is used for glazing applications in, for example, caravans, facades, furniture, and vehicle taillights, but is also found in flat screens, neon signs, jewellery and more. Around 300,000 tonnes of PMMA are produced in Europe alone each year of which just 10% cent is being collected for recycling.