Mechanistic aspects of poly(ethylene terephthalate) recycling-toward enabling high quality sustainability decisions in waste management

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Aug;28(32):43074-43101. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-14925-z. Epub 2021 Jun 19.


Since plastic waste pollution is a severe environmental concern in modern life, the demand for recycling poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) has increased due to its versatile applications. Taking advantage of plastic recycling methods creates the chances of minimizing overall crude oil-based materials consumption, and as a result, greenhouse gasses, specifically CO2, will be decreased. Although many review articles have been published on plastic recycling methods from different aspects, a few review articles exist to investigate the organic reaction mechanism in plastic recycling. This review aims to describe other processes for recycling bottle waste of PET, considering the reaction mechanism. Understanding the reaction mechanism offers practical solutions toward protecting the environment against disadvantageous outgrowths rising from PET wastes. PET recycling aims to transform into a monomer/oligomer to produce new materials from plastic wastes. It is an application in various fields, including the food and beverage industry, packaging, and textile applications, to protect the environment from contamination and introduce a green demand for the near future. In this review, the chemical glycolysis process as an outstanding recycling technique for PET is also discussed, emphasizing the catalysts' performance, reaction conditions and methods, degradation agents, the kinetics of reactions, and reprocessing products. In general, a correct understanding of the PET recycling reaction mechanism leads to making the right decisions in waste management.

Keywords: Biodegradable plastics; Chemical Mechanism; Monomer; Oligomer; Plastic recycling; Plastic wastes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethylenes
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plastics
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates*
  • Recycling
  • Waste Management*


  • Ethylenes
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plastics
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • terephthalic acid