Catalytic Recycling of Polycarbonates

Central to the ongoing efforts to mitigate plastic waste is the development of efficient catalytic processes. One approach for plastic effluent reduction, is the chemical recycling of plastic waste to monomers. Chemical recycling is particularly advantageous as it obviates the material property loss and down-cycling inherent to traditional, mechanical recycling. Presented here is our work on the use of homogeneous catalysts derived from inexpensive earth-abundant metals (e.g. Mg) to chemically recycle polycarbonates. By performing in-depth kinetic analysis, we have probed the mechanism for depolymerisation, which will aid catalyst design in the future. We hope this work will facilitate large-scale depolymerisations for industrial chemical recycling.

Thomas McGuire Talk Abstract figure
Figure 1. Chemical recycling of polyesters and polycarbonates

Thomas McGuire,[a] Arron Deacy,[a] Frances Singer,[b] Antoine Buchard[b] and Charlotte Williams[a]
[a]Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford
[b]Department of Chemistry, University of Bath, Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies


In 2021, Thomas completed his PhD at the University of Bath, supervised by Dr Antoine Buchard. The subject of his PhD thesis was the synthesis of oxygenated polymers and the exploration of the impact of stereochemistry on material properties. In 2019, alongside his PhD, Thomas spent time in Japan as a JSPS summer program fellow. The project involved a short-term research secondment at Nagoya University, hosted by Professor Masami Kamigaito. In this work, they developed a bioderived vinyl monomer for the preparation of stimuli-responsive star polymers. After completing a 3-month research position with Professor Matthew Davidson, Thomas took up a PDRA working with Professor Charlotte Williams in early summer 2021. They are investigating the chemical recycling of oxygenated polymers.

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