Chemistry at the service of the circular economy
Chlor-alkali chemistry helps recycle many products more effectively. It’s another contribution to the paradigm of circular economy and the rational use of the planet's resources.
Sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, is one of the main products of chlor-alkali chemistry, with application in many articles of industrial production. Less known is its importance to help recycle other materials and thus contribute to a more sustainable future.
The are many examples. In sectors such as pulp and paper, not only does sodium hydroxide regenerate many of the chemicals used, allowing factories to reuse them, but it is used also to recycle the paper itself. It controls the pH of the paper to be reused and helps the old fibers to swell, facilitating the separation of the ink that exists on the paper.
It is also used to help recycle microchips and circuit boards in electronic devices, as it removes the coatings from the boards making it easier to dismantle them, reuse the components, and recover the metals – such as gold, core, zinc and platinum – that exist in the old circuits.
Some gold jewelry recycling companies even use sodium hydroxide to clean and purify recycled precious metal.
The same objective is fulfilled when it is used for the purification of recycled bottles, to ensure that they are again safe as containers of water for consumption.
Another product of the chlor-alkali process, with a positive contribution to eco-efficiency in the dry cleaning and metal cleaning industries, is chlorinated solvents.
These chemicals are used and reused in closed circuit in most modern equipment, reducing the amount of waste.