Upcycling of Polyethylene Terephthalate by Addition of Thermoplastic Elastomer

Diego Francisco Bermudez Ayala, University of Texas at El Paso


Continual overconsumption of single-use plastics has generated challenges of solid waste management across the United States. Common plastic waste management solutions, such as landfill, have caused the migration of contaminants into the environment consequently affecting not only the health of wildlife, but also that of human beings. Alternative strategies for the handling of single-use plastic such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used in the food packaging industry, can ultimately help mitigate the noxious consequences of single-use plastics affecting entire ecosystems. This study demonstrates a potential avenue of materials upcycling by studying the effects of coupling PET with the thermoplastic elastomer styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene (SEBS). Physical, mechanical, and shape memory properties were characterized by processing the polymeric blend of PET-SEBS into a monofilament for fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing of the testing samples; the printed samples were subjected to heat treatment cycles to induce crystallization to explore the effect on performance between the two processing conditions. Characterization techniques implemented were melt flow indexing, attenuated total reflectance, dynamic mechanical analysis, X-ray diffraction, tensile testing, impact testing, and scanning electron microscopy. The resulting evidence suggests that the blend can be strengthened after annealing cycles are implemented, but dispersion of the filler phase is modified. Characterization suggests a dual-component mechanism as the driving force for shape memory in this blend. An alternative avenue for the upcycling and processing of PET was demonstrated.

Subject Area

Materials science|Engineering|Polymer chemistry

Recommended Citation

Ayala, Diego Francisco Bermudez, "Upcycling of Polyethylene Terephthalate by Addition of Thermoplastic Elastomer" (2023). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30988226.