Can ABS Plastic Be Safely Broken Down for Recycling?

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In summary, there is a process to break ABS plastic down into safe non carcinogenic chemicals, but it's not easy and it's not always possible. Burning the plastic completely is not always an option. It's best to recycle or reuse it.
  • #1
LightningInAJar
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TL;DR Summary
How?
Is there a process to break ABS plastic down into safe non carcinogenic chemicals? Maybe even down to its basic elements? Maybe an enzyme exists? I want to recycle my 3D printed objects that didn't turn out well.
 
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  • #2
LightningInAJar said:
Summary:: How?

Is there a process to break ABS plastic down into safe non carcinogenic chemicals? Maybe even down to its basic elements? Maybe an enzyme exists? I want to recycle my 3D printed objects that didn't turn out well.
Is ABS carcinogenic?

To recycle, just reheat.
Or perhaps you need smaller pieces by just grinding the bad part up.
 
  • #3
256bits said:
Is ABS carcinogenic?

To recycle, just reheat.
Or perhaps you need smaller pieces by just grinding the bad part up.
At least 1 of three chemicals in ABS is cancer causing. It is stable when combined hence why it can be used to make Legos. But I don't want to reuse the plastic. I would prefer there be less of it left on Earth by breaking all the bonds in it.
 
  • #4
LightningInAJar said:
Summary:: How?

Is there a process to break ABS plastic down into safe non carcinogenic chemicals? Maybe even down to its basic elements? Maybe an enzyme exists? I want to recycle my 3D printed objects that didn't turn out well.

LightningInAJar said:
At least 1 of three chemicals in ABS is cancer causing. It is stable when combined hence why it can be used to make Legos. But I don't want to reuse the plastic. I would prefer there be less of it left on Earth by breaking all the bonds in it.
This is not how chemistry works. The polymer isn’t carcinogenic. Acrylonitrile is, but it’s one of the monomers. The polymer is perfectly harmless as it is, but if you were to “break down” the polymer into its constituent monomers, you’d end up with a stinky poisonous soup. Best case scenario, you burn it all completely and end up with a bunch of CO2. More likely is it wouldn’t burn completely and the fumes would contain the carcinogen that you seek to avoid. The best thing you can do is recycle or reuse the harmless plastic.
 
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  • #5
You could bury it as a form of carbon sequestration.
 
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  • #6
There are too many plastics out there. At some point we will need to break it down completely. It would need to be well contained in any process to break it down. But in my mind it makes more sense to do it in a controlled fashion than have it end in the ocean or a landfill and end up in water supplies. Maybe a UV laser could break even the CO2? Or like I said before, an enzyme that can eat it and output something safer?
 
  • #7
You could shoot it into the sun to reduce it to atoms.
 
  • #8
LightningInAJar said:
There are too many plastics out there. At some point we will need to break it down completely. It would need to be well contained in any process to break it down. But in my mind it makes more sense to do it in a controlled fashion than have it end in the ocean or a landfill and end up in water supplies. Maybe a UV laser could break even the CO2? Or like I said before, an enzyme that can eat it and output something safer?
What makes you think there are too many plastics? And why does that make destruction a better alternative than recycling? And what makes you think that the energy and processes used in destroying that plastic will be better than letting the plastic remain?

If you think there are too many plastics, then the answer is to stop consuming things made from plastic. Are you simply never going to use your 3D printer again? Or are you just going to go out and buy more plastic to feed it instead of recycling what you already have?
 
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  • #10
TeethWhitener said:
What makes you think there are too many plastics? And why does that make destruction a better alternative than recycling? And what makes you think that the energy and processes used in destroying that plastic will be better than letting the plastic remain?

If you think there are too many plastics, then the answer is to stop consuming things made from plastic. Are you simply never going to use your 3D printer again? Or are you just going to go out and buy more plastic to feed it instead of recycling what you already have?
The more we use the more we buy. I don't know who specifically recycles ABS. I know the filament requires a higher temperature each time it is melted which causes nozzle clogs unlike PLA plastic. I don't know if recycling resets its physical properties. Who could I send old part to to make it usable again?
 
  • #11
@Keith_McClary gave an example in the post directly above yours. @BillTre gave an example of simply burying the plastic that serves as a carbon sink. The point is that you’re not going to do better decomposing the plastic than you would recycling it. It’s a noble goal to try to keep hydrocarbons in the ground, but once they’re out of the ground (in the form of ABS plastic, in your case), it’s best to use them to their full extent.
 
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1. Can ABS plastic be recycled?

Yes, ABS plastic can be recycled. However, the process of recycling ABS plastic is more complex than recycling other types of plastic, and not all recycling facilities are equipped to handle it.

2. What is ABS plastic made of?

ABS plastic is made of a combination of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. These three materials are combined to create a strong and durable plastic that is commonly used in manufacturing.

3. Is ABS plastic biodegradable?

No, ABS plastic is not biodegradable. This means that it cannot be broken down by natural processes and will remain in the environment for a long time if not properly disposed of.

4. How is ABS plastic recycled?

The process of recycling ABS plastic involves shredding the plastic into small pieces, cleaning and sorting the pieces, and then melting them down to create new plastic products. However, this process can be more difficult and expensive compared to recycling other types of plastic.

5. Can ABS plastic be safely broken down for recycling?

Yes, ABS plastic can be safely broken down for recycling. However, it is important to note that not all recycling facilities are equipped to handle ABS plastic, so it is important to check with your local recycling center to see if they accept it.

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