Trinseo | Delivering a More Sustainable Solution with PMMA
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Thought Leadership

Pavel Hlavacek, Engineered Materials Marketing Manager EMEA

Recycling and circularity have become key objectives of many materials manufacturers' sustainability plans. We recently saw this at the K-Show in Dusseldorf, Germany, where sustainability was a key discussion point for many companies.

At Trinseo, one material that we see playing a key role in sustainable manufacturing is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), because its chemical structure is simple and easily returned to monomer state without degrading the material. PMMA is widely used because of its exceptional optical clarity, surface hardness, weatherability, and stability.

PMMA has a variety of applications in all its forms. Used in many industries, this material can be found in our daily lives – from medical equipment to automotive parts, and even paints and home appliances. Its use across diverse industries is why Trinseo has invested in the technology to develop a recycled-containing PMMA that mirrors the key performance and safety standards of the prime material.

Supporting a Sustainable Economy

PMMA is critical to helping us achieve a sustainable economy. Trinseo’s ALTUGLAS™ R-Life Acrylic Resins, which launched last year in Europe, is the first on the market to provide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with a sustainable PMMA solution that meets the same performance properties as the prime material.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) provides evidence of how a product will impact the environment throughout its life. Through LCAs, we know that R-Life PMMA, which is produced with 50% or 80% recycled MMA monomer, is a more sustainable material compared to traditional PMMA without compromising quality.

Our materials help support not only Trinseo’s sustainability goals, but also those of our customers. Our partner DIAM, who works with several upscale beauty brands, saw how R-Life can help deliver more sustainable solutions to meet the demands of the beauty industry. DIAM now offers its customers high-quality displays based on Trinseo’s recycled PMMA, with no distinguishable difference from those products manufactured with prime PMMA. Whether the display is glossy black, colored, or fully transparent, it meets the high-quality standards of the cosmetics industry.

The Future of PMMA

As ALTUGLAS™ R-Life becomes more widely available, one area we see benefiting from its implementation is the automotive industry. New mandates by government entities are requiring OEMs to look at more sustainable solutions, which often translates into lightweighting vehicles for better fuel efficiency. Already widely used in vehicle taillights, sensor covers, and trim, PMMA could also have other applications due to its light weight, UV resilience, and impact resistance. In many exterior areas where metal still exists, recycled PMMA could offer a sustainable alternative.

As we look to the future, PMMA could help OEMs deliver more sustainable solutions that also meet performance demands. It is exciting to think about where this one material could be incorporated next!