Is ABS filament biodegradable? (3 reuses)  

The article will talk about the biodegradability of ABS and will also cover topics such as

  • Is ABS filament the best choice?
  • Can it be recycled?
  • How to?
  • What are the reuses?
  • What is the best way to discard ABS filament?

Is ABS filament biodegradable?

As 3d printing continues to impress the modern community, a hidden question is always there whether the materials used for this 3d printing are sustainable or not. 

When it comes to that, ABS is a known material because it is known for its wide applications in 3d printing. But let us ask the important question: Are ABS filaments biodegradable or not? 

As a matter of fact, ABS filaments are not biodegradable because the filaments are made from ABS material. ABS is a synthetic polymer. What this means is that it is not derived from nature and therefore, can not get back to nature. 

Biodegradation is the same going back to nature. By definition, biodegradation is the breakdown that is caused by microbes and decomposers. The main reason why biodegradation exists is that the products and materials may go back to nature so that there is no waste generation. 

However, the case of ABS begs to differ because of its artificiality. As a result, ABS filaments are known to be persistently non-biodegradable. 

As regards the degradation time, ABS filaments may take up to a thousand years to degrade and decompose. This is just the code for never. 

Is ABS filament the best choice?

When it comes to 3d printing, ABS filaments are one of the most stood out options. But the question still remains, is ABS filament the best choice?

When it comes to that, it may be mentioned that the question can be answered through two main frames. There is one filament that gives tough competition to ABS. That is PLA. PLA is a plant-based biodegradable filament. 

Biodegradability is the biggest strength of PLA other than being of good scent, aesthetic, easy to handle and lightweight. However, by using PLA, you will need to compromise on the melting parameters and durability. 

If we consider the environmental aspect in mind, ABS lags behind because it is non-biodegradable and will contribute to waste and environmental problems. 

Therefore, it can be said that ABS filament is not the best choice because of the following reasons

  • The processing of ABS can also be toxic and hazardous to human life and health
  • ABS is not that eco-friendly as compared to its counterparts such as PLA  
  • The production of ABS requires tons of non-renewable energy 
  • The production of ABS happens at the cost of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels 
  • The production of ABS results in the emission of harmful fumes that may damage the environment. It is the result of these fumes that it is advised to manufacture ABS products in closed and controlled setups 
  • The disposal of ABS is not eco-friendly 
  • ABS is non-biodegradable 
  • The recycling of ABS may not be openly accepted
  • ABS material is not compostable 
  • ABS may contribute to waste problems by remaining in landfills for 1000 years or so
  • ABS may damage human health and can cause irritation when exposed to heat 

What to choose instead?

Since it has been established that the use, production and disposal of ABS are not sustainable or eco-friendly, a natural question that should come to the mind of an eco-directed individual is what can be used instead? 

When it comes to that, some options can be considered and relied upon. For example, owing to the increased environmental concerns and eco-paradigms, there have been green substitutes for most commercial and synthetic products. 

The same is the case with ABS. It already has been disclosed that one good alternative to ABS is PLA because it is more eco-friendly given the fact that it is plant-based and also biodegradable. 

As per studies, there is a new type of polymer introduced in the market Treva. Treva is made from cellulose-based plastics. More than that, Treva also sources from sustainably managed forests to make sure that the cellulose source also does not cause fervent cutting of trees. 

It is just the start. With the increasing eco-concerns, many greener substitutes are expected to take control that will deliver similar or even better utility but not at the cost of our environment. 

What is needed is the necessary green mindset that people and consumers need to have. Only then can we, as a society, progress to a clean, green future. 

Can ABS filament be recycled?

It is possible to recycle ABS filament but it is also a known fact that the recycling of ABS material may not be that widespread and openly accepted. 

One of the most frequent questions that are asked in association with the biodegradability of ABS filament is the possibility of ABS being recyclable or not. When it comes to that, there is both good news and bad news. 

The reason why recycling is so preferred and inquired about is the fact that recycling is one very efficient way to ensure that the non-biodegradable waste does not end up in landfills and rather is utilised well. 

The next big question is how to recycle. The first thing that you need to do is to check with your local recycling centre. If they accept ABS filament, then bingo. All you need to do is to have your ABS waste dropped off or picked up by the recycling centre. 

If your local recycling centre does not accept ABS filament, then you are left with two options. One is to either contact private ventures that may accept recycling ABS filament. However, you will need to go some steps beyond that. 

If you are not willing to go this far, all you can do is treat ABS filament as regular waste. The fate of this regular waste will either be in landfills or incineration. 

What is the best way to discard ABS filament? (3 reuses) 

The best way to discard ABS filament is to actually recycle it. It can be done professionally but also can be done at home with the help of filament recyclers. 

You can also consider reuse and repurpose options such as

  • Reusing scraps: the used and failed ABS filaments can be blended together, melted, and then can be customised to make any item of your choice, preference or need
  • ABS Glue: ABS filaments can also be repurposed to make ABS glue which may be as effective as any super glue
  • ABS Juice: ABS filaments can also be repurposed to make ABS juice which then can be used to make prints stick to the surface 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that ABS filament is not biodegradable since it is a synthetic polymer derived from fossil fuels and therefore, may require up to 1000 years to decompose. 

A case was also built on the eco-friendliness of ABS filament and it was finalised if ABS was the best and most sustainable option or not. Greener alternatives were also stated. 

Since ABS is non-biodegradable, it is also not possible to compost it. ABS is likely to end up in landfills or incinerated. If you dispose of ABS in landfills, it will stay there for many years. 

In light of these points, ABS filament is regarded as not eco-friendly and therefore greener alternatives were given. Various aspects that advocated in favour of ABS being non-eco-friendly were also shed light upon. 

References

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