Is ABS plastic biodegradable?

This blog post will answer the question, “Is ABS plastic biodegradable” and cover topics like the biodegradability of ABS and frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Is ABS plastic biodegradable?

No, ABS plastic is not biodegradable. Because ABS is made of more durable components, fungus and bacteria cannot break it down into smaller molecules. Therefore, if ABS plastic is not biodegradable.

What is ABS plastic?

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is the full name for ABS. It is a polymeric polymer made from petroleum-based materials.

Amorphous polymers and opaque thermoplastics of the type ABS are also available.

Is ABS a Recyclable Plastic Type?

Yes, ABS plastic is recyclable. In order to reuse unsuccessful prints and to protect the environment, it’s important to examine if the plastic you’re using for 3D printing can be recycled. This is particularly important given that plastic waste is a growing issue.

In contrast to thermosetting polymers, which once heated establish irreversible chemical connections and cannot be melted, a thermoplastic’s key property is its ability to be heated to a liquid state, melted into it, and then cooled back down to become a solid again.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to state that all thermoplastics are recyclable by nature, in contrast to thermosetting plastics, which are not, as the recycling process can be fundamentally explained as melting the plastic and re-molding it to meet its new function.

We may infer that ABS is a recyclable sort of plastic since it is a thermoplastic, which means that all 3D printing filaments, like ABS, are thermoplastics. This means that it is entirely feasible to recycle the 3D printed objects you have created with ABS filament.

ABS can be recycled a few times before its quality deteriorates to the point that it can no longer serve its function, despite the fact that the quality of the plastic technically declines with each recycling.

How is ABS recycled?

The following steps are part of the recycling process for ABS plastic:

  • Segregation
  • Milling
  • Melting and Reforming

I will now elaborate on these.


Prior to being purified, ABS must be isolated from other polymers, trash, and impurities. At the industrial level, froth flotation is used to separate the materials.

To separate the plastic from other particles, the technique uses impure ABS and an oil-water combination.

The segregation will take place at the collecting stage for municipal and residential waste. A container will be used to carry the ABS plastic.


The ABS parts will next be ground up into granules. At this point, a commercial grinder or a home grinder is useful.

Melting and Reforming

In order to melt and reconstruct the ABS plastic, the granules are fed into an extruder. You may anticipate receiving recycled ABS plastic in the form of plastic filaments or sheets, depending on the extruder’s task.

To melt and create new goods, ABS plastic granules may also be added to an appropriate injection molding machine. However, the issue is that ABS plastics cannot be recycled at the majority of recycling plants.

Due to their very stiff structure, these polymers need greater temperatures to melt them.

Accepting ABS plastic with such demands is a hurdle for the majority of plastic recycling plants. Additionally, they assert that the finished product will be of poor quality.

And because of the landfills where these plastics end up, the ecosystem is harmed.

Is ABS biodegradable plastic?

No, ABS plastic is not biodegradable. 

Biodegradability, which is sometimes mistaken for recyclability, refers to whether the plastic can break down naturally over time. While this has no direct advantages for you, it is a crucial factor to take into account for the environment.

Due to its petroleum foundation, ABS is unfortunately not a biodegradable sort of plastic, which means that no matter how long it is exposed to microbial creatures that break down organic matter, it will not disintegrate and instead remain completely intact.

As a consequence, the only method to lessen the plastic waste that ABS produces is to recycle it as much as you can in order to limit the amount of new ABS plastic that is produced and used.

How Can ABS Filament From Failed Print Be Recycled?

There are a few various approaches you may take to recycle the ABS that you have accumulated over time in the form of unsuccessful prints, and some of them may even enable you to reap some personal rewards in addition to environmental ones.

The many techniques for recycling ABS filament that you may use are listed here; they were collected from unsuccessful 3D printing.

  • Use a 3D printer filament recycler to convert the unsuccessful prints into recycled filament.
  • Use a service that recycles 3D printer filament.
  • Offer the plastic for sale to businesses that purchase used plastic.
  • Place your unsuccessful prints in the recycle bin.

Is ABS a hazardous substance?

Thankfully, ABS plastic is regarded as non-toxic when it is in its finished forms, such as appliances or toys.

It is stable, non-leaching, and as of yet, it hasn’t been linked to cancer. However, neither its usage in the food sector nor for internal medical devices has been subject to regulation.

The problem is that after going through many manufacturing steps, ABS becomes poisonous. ABS material may catch fire when subjected to very high temperatures. In addition to the obvious fire risk that is created, hazardous gases like carbon monoxide & hydrogen cyanide are also released.

ABS plastic really poses a risk during any “melting process” since the terpolymer is divided into individual polymers like acrylonitrile and styrene. This holds true for the application of solvents to components made from 3D printed patterns to smooth them down.

Third, these issues pose dangers to the environment.

Another issue is that ABS dust and tiny particles are released into the atmosphere as a result of 3D printing. It is previously recognized that this has bad impacts on health. The dust particles irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Finally, ABS degrades when exposed to UV light, which may eventually result in some of the chemicals leaching out.

Why you should avoid ABS?

ABS should be avoided due to the following reasons:

  • You Are Definitely Being Poisoned by ABS
  • Stronger and simpler-to-print materials are available
  • Warping, warping, warping
  • Concerns about the environment

I will now elaborate on these.

You Are Definitely Being Poisoned by ABS

Plastic made from petroleum called ABS is not biodegradable. Furthermore, it is a more naturally hazardous plastic than PLA. 

The moment ABS scent reaches you, internal bells go off: this stuff can’t be healthy for me. Building enclosures with some kind of ventilation tube to remove the fumes from the room is a fairly popular practice.

There hasn’t been enough thorough research done on the long-term impacts of ABS plastic fumes. The olfactory system is how people inhale both gaseous chemicals and nanoparticles, according to a 2015 research that was published on 

The olfactory nerves of the nasal mucosa are the pathway by which the ultrafine particle travels from the respiratory organs to the brain. Only one skin exposure is enough for partial absorption.

Stronger and simpler-to-print materials are available

The market for filament did not have a multi-million dollar global market when home 3D printing initially took off. The locality had to make use of the marketplaces that were open at the time. That signified ABS in terms of thermoplastics.

ABS is widely utilized in the industrial industry. As a result, there was a consistent supply of materials and reasonable costs. Currently, 3D printer filament is the subject of thorough research and development, and 3D printing-specific polymers are being created. 

Which are simpler to print on practically any machine and have superior strength with fewer or no warping difficulties. 

PET & PETG are simpler to print than ABS and have comparable qualities. the next time you’re going to click “buy” on some ABS, simply grab a roll. Before you reach the end of the roll, you will be thanking me.

Warping, warping, warping

Looking at how finicky ABS is with temperature should be enough to convince you that it was never intended for this use. ABS is mostly employed in injection molding processes, where its heat cannot escape since it quickly cools. 

When it comes to 3D printing, the situation is very different. Small temperature changes can cause your ABS pieces to rise off the bed and destroy your prints. 

Due to the fact that your odds of having a good print decrease as heat escapes from your print bed, people who often use ABS utilize enclosures.

Get an enclosure if you don’t want your prints to distort. Just find whatever technique you can to trap that heat. I’ve seen people cover printers with anything from laundry hampers to blankets, which I still consider to be quite risky, to put it mildly. 

If you’re going to do so, please utilize fire-resistant material; else, your home might be destroyed. ABS won’t cling to the bed if you don’t have a hotbed, so don’t even try printing it without one.

Concerns about the environment

ABS cannot be biodegraded. Long after the rest of us have passed away, your 3DBenchy will still exist. The world is not heading in that direction. both in terms of production using nonrenewable resources and in terms of disposal. 

Imagine how much support materials, unsuccessful prints, and brims rafts build up over time. What will happen to that? We are going to continue to face serious environmental issues as a species. 

Even if you believe that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, the cost of fossil fuels will directly affect the price of ABS, so if oil prices rise, you could notice a shift in the cost of your filament.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Is ABS plastic biodegradable?”

Is ABS plastic environmentally friendly?

ABS material cannot be degraded by nature. Because ABS is made of more durable components, fungus and bacteria cannot break it down into smaller molecules. Therefore, if ABS plastic is not recycled, it will end up in landfills.

What makes ABS harmful to the environment?

Due to its poor conductivity, it cannot always be employed when doing so would compromise the overall design. The ABS material produces a lot of smoke when burnt, raising questions about potential air pollution.

Does ABS deteriorate in sunlight?

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS is substantially more heat resistant than PLA, therefore it can survive the sun for longer. For brief outdoor usage, it is a suitable solution because of its stiffness and strong tensile properties. It may deteriorate if exposed to the sun for an extended period of time.

Are ABS products toxic?

This product doesn’t contain any dangerous compounds when processed normally. On the other hand, it also warns that “Fumes created during the melting processes, may cause eye, skin, & respiratory tract discomfort, and if overexposed, might induce nausea and headache.”

ABS is a form of plastic, right?

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, sometimes known as ABS, is a popular thermoplastic polymer that is frequently used in injection molding applications. This engineering plastic is well-liked because it is inexpensive to produce and is simple for plastic makers to process.

Does ABS plastic contain any oil?

ABS is a versatile material that is used to create a variety of consumer goods, including Lego bricks, protective headgear, kitchen equipment, and ventilation pipes. Despite how useful it is, one of its flaws is that chemicals from petroleum are used in its production.

Is ABS OK for usage outside?

The material can sustain substantially greater temperatures before it starts to distort because of ABS’s higher glass transition temperature. Because of this, ABS is a fantastic material for outdoor or hot-weather applications.


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