Organocatalyzed Closed-Loop Chemical Recycling of Thermo-Compressed Films of Poly(ethylene furanoate)
Monomers derived from renewable feedstocks have emerged as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based polymers. One of the biomass derived materials that is gaining attention as an alternative to petroleum-based polymers for food packaging applications is poly(ethylene furanoate) (PEF). However, PEF is not biodegradable and its end-of-life options must be considered in order to avoid contributing to the accumulation of plastic waste. In this paper, after analyzing the suitability of PEF for packaging applications using an industrially relevant processing method, the chemical glycolysis of PEF was investigated using a thermally stable acid-base organocatalyst. After succesfully deconstructing the PEF into bis(2-hydroxyethyl)-furan-2,5-dicarboxylate (BHEF), the obtained BHEF was used to resynthesise PEF using the same catalyst to generate a material with similar thermal properties to virgin PEF in a closed-loop cycle.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Polymer Chemistry Pioneering Investigators 2021