Home » Is ABS Plastic Recyclable – Updated Guide 2023

Is ABS Plastic Recyclable – Updated Guide 2023

You probably come across ABS plastic every day without even realizing it.

is abs recyclable

It’s a popular material used in a variety of products, from Lego bricks to car parts.

It was invented in the 1940s by a team of scientists from the United States Rubber Company.

The material was created as a replacement for traditional materials like metal and glass, which were in short supply during World War II.

Since then, ABS plastic has evolved to become a versatile and widely used material in various industries.

ABS plastic is used in a variety of industries, including automotive, construction, and electronics.

In the automotive industry, ABS plastic is used for interior and exterior parts, such as dashboards and bumpers.

In the construction industry, it is used for pipes, fittings, and roofing tiles.

In the electronics industry, it is used for computer cases, keyboards, and phone cases.

But have you ever wondered whether ABS plastic is recyclable?

Recycling is essential for reducing waste and protecting the environment, so it’s crucial to know whether ABS plastic can be recycled.

What is ABS Plastic?

ABS plastic, or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, is a thermoplastic polymer that is widely used in manufacturing.

It’s a lightweight and durable material that is resistant to impact and heat.

ABS plastic is commonly used in a range of applications, including toys, electronics, automotive parts, and household appliances.

Recycling ABS Plastic

Now, the big question is – is ABS plastic recyclable?

The answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just putting it in your recycling bin.

ABS plastic is a complex material that requires specialized recycling processes.

Unfortunately, not all recycling facilities have the equipment or resources to recycle ABS plastic effectively.

In fact, only a small percentage of ABS plastic is currently recycled globally.

According to a report by PlasticsEurope, the recycling rate for ABS plastic in Europe is only 18.3%.

In the US, the recycling rate for all plastics is around 9%, which includes ABS plastic.

Challenges in Recycling ABS Plastic

One of the main challenges in recycling ABS plastic is that it’s often combined with other materials.

For example, a plastic toy may be made from ABS plastic, but it may also have metal or electronic components, which can make recycling more complicated.

Sorting and separating different materials can be a labor-intensive and costly process.

Another challenge is that ABS plastic is not always labeled, making it difficult for recycling facilities to identify and sort it.

This can result in ABS plastic being mistakenly sent to landfill or incineration instead of being recycled.

Recycling Processes for ABS Plastic

Recycling ABS plastic typically involves shredding the material into small pieces and then melting it down to create new products.

There are two main recycling processes used for ABS plastic:

Mechanical recycling: This involves shredding and melting the plastic to create new products.

Mechanical recycling is the most common method of recycling ABS plastic.

Chemical recycling: This involves breaking down the plastic into its chemical components and then using those components to create new products.

Chemical recycling is a newer technology that is still in development.

Potential Uses for Recycled ABS Plastic

Recycled ABS plastic can be used in a variety of products, such as automotive parts, building materials, and consumer goods.

In fact, recycled ABS plastic is already being used in products such as laptop cases and car bumpers.

Here are a few more products:

  1. Laptop cases
  2. Car parts, such as bumpers and interior trim
  3. Toys and games
  4. Building materials, such as pipes and fittings
  5. Consumer goods, such as phone cases and office supplies
  6. Electrical and electronic components
  7. Medical devices
  8. Packaging materials, such as plastic containers and boxes
  9. Sports equipment, such as helmets and protective gear
  10. Automotive accessories, such as wheel covers and mirror housings

Top 7 Ideas For Reusing and Upcycling ABS

  1. 3D printing: ABS is a popular material for 3D printing, and can be reused in new 3D prints or melted down and reshaped into new objects.
  2. DIY projects: ABS can be used for a wide range of DIY projects, such as building custom cases or creating decorative items.
  3. Repairing broken items: If you have broken plastic items around the house, ABS can be used to repair them by filling in gaps or cracks.
  4. Crafting: ABS plastic can be cut, shaped, and painted to create a variety of craft projects, such as jewelry, keychains, and figurines.
  5. Home organization: ABS plastic can be used to create custom organizers for tools, crafts, and other small items around the home.
  6. Upcycling: If you have old ABS plastic items that you no longer need, you can upcycle them into something new, such as turning an old laptop case into a planter or storage container.
  7. Art projects: ABS plastic can be used to create unique and colorful art pieces, such as sculptures, mosaics, and wall hangings.

Environmental Impact of ABS Plastic

ABS plastic is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to break down.

When ABS plastic is not recycled, it can end up in landfills or the ocean, where it can harm wildlife and pollute the environment.

According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.

The Alternatives to ABS Plastic

There are alternatives to ABS plastic that are more environmentally friendly, such as bioplastics made from renewable resources and recycled materials.

Bioplastics are made from sources such as corn starch, sugarcane, and cellulose, while recycled materials are made from post-consumer waste.

Many companies and organizations are successfully recycling ABS plastic and incorporating it into their products.

For example, Dell has incorporated recycled ABS plastic into its computer products, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.


In conclusion, ABS plastic can be recycled, but it’s not always easy or straightforward.

Recycling ABS plastic requires specialized processes and facilities, and not all recycling facilities have the resources to recycle it effectively.

However, recycling ABS plastic is crucial for reducing waste and protecting the environment.

By recycling ABS plastic, we can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and the ocean, and help create a more sustainable future.


Is ABS plastic eco-friendly?

One of the main issues with ABS plastic is that it does not biodegrade, meaning it can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment.

This means that ABS plastic can accumulate in landfills and oceans, contributing to pollution and harming wildlife and ecosystems.

Additionally, the production of ABS plastic requires the use of non-renewable fossil fuels, and can also involve the use of hazardous chemicals such as styrene.

These chemicals can pose risks to human health and the environment if not handled properly.

However, ABS plastic does have some positive environmental aspects.

It is a durable material that can last a long time, reducing the need for frequent replacement and waste.

ABS plastic is also recyclable, meaning it can be reused in new products instead of being discarded.

Recycling ABS plastic can help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or the environment.

It can also contribute to environmental pollution if not disposed of properly.

How can ABS be recycled?

ABS plastic can be recycled through specialized processes, such as shredding and melting, or breaking down the plastic into its chemical components.

However, recycling ABS plastic requires specialized facilities and processes, which can be limited in availability.

What is the recycle code for ABS?

The recycle code for ABS plastic is number 7.

However, the number 7 code is a catch-all category for plastics that do not fit into the other six categories, so it’s important to check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept ABS plastic.

Why is ABS not recyclable?

ABS plastic is recyclable, but it’s not always easy or straightforward.

One of the main challenges in recycling ABS plastic is that it’s often combined with other materials, making sorting and separating difficult.

Additionally, not all recycling facilities have the specialized equipment and resources needed to effectively recycle ABS plastic.

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