One of the fine qualities of acrylic is the fact that it is fully recyclable from PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) back into MMA (methylmethacrylate). This process is a combination of high heat cracking and distillation. Like any chemical process, the “depolymerization” process can be done well or it can be done poorly. Major acrylic manufacturers that have the resources and technology to invest in a properly designed and built acrylic recycling facility generally have facilities that produce recycled MMA of the same quality as virgin MMA. Smaller or regional producers tend to do it poorly, some very poorly indeed.
What happens if the MMA is poorly recycled? This can and does have a very negative impact on the quality of the acrylic. Poorly recycled MMA can:
- Lower ultraviolet light resistance
- Lower clarity
- Create pungent smoke and odors during machining processes
- Create pungent odors in line bending, drape forming, and thermoforming
- Bubble and ripple on thermoforming
- Lower chemical, stain and solvent resistance
As regional supply of recycled MMA is not to the highest standards, Astari uses only 100% virgin MMA.