How to Dispose of Resin?

In this short discussion we will be covering the topic “how to dispose of resin?” by answering some of the relevant questions related to its safe handling and disposal. We will further be discussing the eco-friendly nature of some of the resins based on its origin.

What is a resin?

Resins are viscous polymeric substances that are produced by plants and harden by itself, while the one that is synthetically made needs to be cured for making it into a rigid polymer.

Resin is a naturally occurring, highly viscous, and non crystalline liquid produced by certain species of plants. The plants produce these resin when there is a cut on the trees which can be caused by wind, fire, lightning, or other causes. Production of resin is considered as a natural defense mechanism by the trees where the liquid will seal the wound and trap insects and bugs due to its viscous nature. 

Another fact about these resins is that they solidify once out of the trees thereby trapping the bugs and insects killing them within the resin. The naturally occurring resins are fusible as well as flammable which means it can catch fire easily. The trees from which resins are extracted for commercial purpose comes from the following family.

  • Pinaceae
  • Legumes
  • Dipterocarpaceae

These naturally occurring resins give it special properties that help in a variety of applications. One of the advantageous aspects is its insolubility in water and hence these are used by ship builders to waterproof rope and traps. Further processing of the resin with solvent and drying oil will lead to the formation of varnish that is used to polish woody surfaces thereby providing a glossy finish and protection to these furnitures.

Humans have been using resins for thousands of years for various purposes. Ancient people such as the Chinese, Egyptians, and Japanese used to make varnishes and lacquers from the naturally available resins. Currently, to meet the demand and the required properties, many synthetic resins are being produced with chemicals that have properties similar to plant based resins. 

Some of the synthetic resins that are used in multitude applications fall in the two categories.

  • Thermosetting synthetic resin
  • Thermoplastic synthetic resin

The synthetic plastics are high molecular weight polymers and the so called plastic made from polyethylene also falls in this category. Since they are not naturally produced, synthetic resins have their own disadvantages. As they are suitable for many applications, their use is versatile. From jewelry to building materials, synthetic resins cover a wide range of applications. 

How to dispose of resin?

Let’s now come to the main issue – disposal of resins. Resins once hardened become inert and non-reactive and hence can be disposed of with the other household wastes. Some of the resins can be heated repeatedly and reused for other purposes. Naturally occurring resins are biodegradable in all conditions. This is one of the main reasons people are choosing synthetic ones. With its multitude of applications, synthetic resins are used everywhere.  

Epoxy resins that are used as adhesives and in electronic and electrical systems are inert and non-reactive once cured. The cured ones do not pose any health hazards and hence can be disposed of along with other wastes. The leftover resins should be allowed to cure and then be disposed of similarly to other wastes.

Resin containers that are empty should be closed with a lid and allow it to dry. This way you can dispose of the cured resin with other wastes. Never dispose of any liquid resins down the sink or toilets as these are insoluble in water and once hardened will clog the drains. Another advantage of epoxy resin is that it is completely recyclable, hence, you can be given to collection centers that recycle it for further use.

However, liquid resins that are dissolved in solvents or that cannot be cured should be disposed of with proper care. There are certain regulations that need to be followed such as labeling the resin then placing it in a safe resin container and disposing of with all applicable regulations.

Is resin eco-friendly?

Resins produced from plant sources are easily biodegradable and pose no threat to our environment. Some are even biodegradable if it is produced from organic materials such as eco-resin, silicone resin, and epoxy resins. However, non biodegradable monomeric materials that make resins such as polyesters, polyurethane, and thermoset resins are also nonbiodegradable.

Thus the only way to dispose of such resins is to burn them under strict precautions and regulation. Unburned resin disposing has resulted in pollution of the environment. Moreover, thermoset resins are produced by utilizing the fossil fuels and this is neither biodegradable or recyclable. 

Overuse of these resins is not eco-friendly as they have several toxic elements that need to be handled cautiously. We have the option to buy biodegradable resins for industrial purposes. Rather than using the non biodegradable resins, silicone resin or epoxy resins will provide a better solution for the safety of our environment. 

Compared to plastic the resins are much more eco-friendly as with resins we have more eco-friendly options available. Furthermore, organic resins can be recycled any number of times. Some Resins can melt at 70 deg celsius and can be reused for making different craft or jewelry by just melting and then curing. 

When not in use, these resins should be securely placed in a dark container and kept away from light as these can react with UV light. However, when spills happen it should be cleaned up immediately, else it will be difficult to remove the cured resins. Isopropyl alcohol, which is a most common cleaning agent, will remove the spill much effectively.

Owing to the environmental hazard  to the current resins, scientists are now trying to develop much more eco-friendly alternatives. Rothenberg and Alberts utilized biofuels to make polymerised resins that have interesting properties. With different mix and match of raw materials obtained from natural sources, these resins are non-toxic and pose no environmental issues.

Conclusion

In this short report we have discussed the question “how to dispose of resins?” by briefly discussing the type and source of resins and how each is affecting our environment. On the abroad aspect we have discussed the different ways the resins can be disposed of.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): How to dispose of resins?

How do you dispose of leftover epoxy resin?

Leftover epoxy resins can be cleared off by allowing it to cure for 10-15 minutes. The cured resin is non reactive and does not emit any toxic substance.Thus, this can be disposed of with other household wastes. Moreover, epoxy resins are biodegradable and also recyclable, hence, do not cause any harmful effects to the environment after its disposal.

Can you pour resin down the sink?

Resins hardens when cured and the time taken for curing is very less, somewhere between 20-30 minutes. Resins are also insoluble in water, so when the liquid resin is poured down the drain, these will harden and block the drain. Removing it will be tough as it becomes hard and you end up breaking up the drain.

Is resin a hazardous waste?

Plant based resins are not hazardous as these are produced naturally by plants and are biodegradable. Similarly, resins made from organic compounds are also biodegradable, hence, are not considered as hazardous waste. Such resins are epoxy resins and silicone resins. 

However,some synthetic resins are made from fossil fuels and emit toxic fumes when burned. As these resins can only be disposed of by burning they are potentially harmful to our environment. Such resins are thermoset resins that behave like plastics such as polyurethane, polyester, and fiberglass resins.

Is resin bad for the environment?

Resins that biodegrade are not harmful to our environment. Such types of resins are plant based resins or resins made from organic compounds. These degrade similar to organic wastes and do not pose any threat to the environment. Choosing such kinds of resins is an eco-friendly option. 

Epoxy resins are one of the most widely used resins and these are biodegradable as well as recyclable. Whereas resin polymers made from polyethylene or fiberglass are not biodegradable and hence their disposal will release toxic chemicals to the environment.

What can I do with leftover cured resin?

The leftover resins should be left to cure either under sunlight or by UV rays. This will harden most of the epoxy resins which are then safe to dispose with other wastes. However, resins should never be flushed in the toilet or discarded in the drain as they tend to harden and being insoluble in water will clog the drain pipe.

Does resin biodegrade?

The fact is that most of the widely used resins are not biodegradable and hence is a cause of concern. However , chemists are developing a sustainable source of resin from vegetables, oils,and other naturally occurring materials that can effectively biodegrade.  

Are resin products recyclable?

Most of the resins are recyclable if they are not contaminated with other materials. For hazardous resin, the recycling center will collect it separately and handle it as per the state regulations. Polyethylene resins that are plastic resins are recyclable if the material is clean and dry.

Is resin cancerous?

Studies have shown that epoxy resins that contain epichlorohydrin cause skin cancer in laboratory animals. However the new epoxy resin is made from non toxic levels of epichlorohydrin and does not cause any cancerous effect on lab animals.  

References

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “resin”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 Jan. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/science/resin. Accessed 11 January 2022.

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/resins.shtml
https://promarinesupplies.com/blog/epoxy-resin-storage-recycling-disposal/

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