Sub- and supercritical glycolysis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) with ethylene glycol (EG) to bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET) was investigated for the purpose of developing a PET recycling process. Supercritical glycolysis was carried out at 450 degrees C and 15.3 MPa while subcritical glycolysis was carried out at 350 degrees C and 2.49 MPa or at 300 degrees C and 1.1 MPa. High yields (gt; 90%) of the monomer BHET were obtained in both super- and subcritical cases. For the same PET/EG weight ratio of about 0.06, the optimum reaction time was 30 min for supercritical glycolysis and 75 and 120 min for two cases of subcritical glycolysis. GPC, RP-HPLC, (1)H NMR and (13)C NMR, and DSC were used to characterize the polymer and reaction products. Supercritical glycolysis will be suitable to a process requiring a high throughput due to its short reaction time. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.