Read on
Just 15% of all plastic waste collected in the EU is recycled into new plastics. The vast majority is mixed and contaminated and can't be recycled mechanically, so it ends up in landfill or is incinerated. Chemical recycling, for example by means of pyrolysis, is the only technology that can change this. It also leads to a significant reduction of CO2 emissions.
Editorial office / Brussels

This is evident from a newly published position paper by CEFIC, the European organization of the chemical industry. According to CEFIC, chemical recycling makes an essential contribution to the European circular economy objectives.

Because the technology is fairly new, the chemical industry is currently conducting a number of life cycle assessments (LCAs) to clarify the environmental impact of chemical recycling. For example, recent research by BASF shows that pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste leads to 50% less CO2 emissions than the incineration of the same waste. This confirms previous findings that the carbon footprint of chemically recycled plastics is smaller than that of ‘virgin’ plastics from fossil raw materials. Chemical recycling may have an additional benefit as well; it can potentially remove the so-called “legacy chemicals” and substances of very high concern (SVHC) from plastic waste.

The chemical industry is currently working to further improve the technology and welcomes the activities of initiatives such as that of the Circular Plastic Alliance. This platform has 175 members and aims to boost the recycled plastics market to 10 million tons by 2025.

It is therefore important that chemical recycling stays part of the European innovation agenda and benefits from investments from Green Recovery investments.

The full position paper can be downloaded from the CEFIC website.

Image: Larina Marina/Shutterstock