By Lynn L. Bergeson
Researchers in Lithuania and Egypt have discovered how to use N, N-dimethylcyclohexylamine (DMCHA) to break down multilayer flexible packaging (MFP) that pose a threat to the environment. MFP is used in making blister pill packages, candy wrappers, chip packets, and related products, and can contain aluminum, among other toxic substances, which when leaked or incinerated is hazardous to the environment. Although some practices exist to separate the multilayered packaging through recycling technologies, the European Union (EU), for example, limits practices based on energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, recycling rate, and sustainability. Combined, these limitations allow for a rate of less than 66 percent of MFPs. This new method, however, allows for recycling rates above 99 percent.
The technology developed separates each layer from one another by using DMCHA and other switchable hydrophilicity solvents (SHS) in an ultrasonic treatment to accelerate the process. Once separation of the layers has occurred, the dissolved plastic materials can be recovered without heating, avoiding CO2 production. For further details on the study, click here.