How Does One “Recycle” a Substance Thats Main Purpose Is to “Outlast”?

recycling PTFEIt’s a question that needs more airtime than it usually gets. We all know how aluminum, standard plastic, steel, and rubber can find new usage given the right recycling methods – those methods are tried-and-true and have been around for a long time at this point. But it’s the substances that are chemically engineered to withstand – and outlast – the ultra-harsh environments they are subject to that could use a little more conversation. One such material finds its way into many of 3M’s and Converter’s most ingenious products: polytetrafluoroethylene. Labeled PTFE for short (don’t worry, there won’t be a spelling quiz), it is a substance prized by manufacturers and end-users alike for its ability to withstand extreme temperatures in addition to intensively hostile, corrosive chemical environments. Where steel and aluminum fear to tread, PTFE can make all the difference.

But being that PTFE is so reliably resilient, it’s been a laborious process for those who make it – including the chemical engineers at 3M – to break it back down into operable material once its “shelf-life” has expired. It’s been a difficult feat of engineering, but as part of 3M’s long-standing initiative to become a greener company, it’s a problem that now has a solution. In the south of Germany, 3M subsidiary Dyneon GmbH is in the midst of building a PTFE reprocessing plant that will have an annual recycling rate of 500 tons per year. Upon arrival at the site, PTFE products will be heated within a reactor, split into their bare gaseous compounds, cleaned, and subsequently reintegrated into the production of fresh PTFE products. Given that most PTFE either ends up in landfills or burned in a non-eco-friendly way, this new means of recycling is a great leap forward for 3M and all companies that affiliate with it.

At Converters, we have a long history of providing the best in customized 3M products as well as in being eco-conscious. Our commitment to promoting a better, greener environment is stronger than ever – and we whole-heartedly support 3M’s groundbreaking initiative to help “break down” one of the most problematic substances currently in production. Being that we stock PTFE solutions in our own supply chain, we are that much more confident that consumers can purchase these products without being fettered by environmental bad conscience. On the contrary, they’ll be contributing to the greening of the planet.

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