The Potential of Chemical Recycling Technologies


Chemical recycling can help achieve the European targets on recycling plastics and contribute to the EU Green Deal ambitions on circularity and climate neutrality by 2050. To get higher recycling rates for plastic waste, complementary solutions need to be considered. Presently, there are three main routes for recycling of plastic waste: mechanical recycling, dissolution recycling, and chemical recycling. The latest has the potential to tackle mixed or contaminated plastic waste that cannot be recycled mechanically, which otherwise would be incinerated or sent to landfill, and to remove undesired additives and impurities. Chemical recycling can also eliminate the emissions linked to incineration and conventional production of feedstock materials.

According to Cefic’s updated position paper on Chemical Recycling, despite the use of chemically recycled plastics in multiple applications in Europe, the full implementation and integration of these technologies needs scaled-up innovations, investments, and a strong and enabling European policy framework.

Recently organised in March by ECP4, Agoria, Chemical Recycling Europe, EuPC, and SusChem, the Chemical Recycling Workshop, resulted in an overview of the potential of these technologies and challenges still faced by the industry in the path towards the scale-up of fully circular solutions.

European and regional perspectives on existing projects were shared among participants, and some of the conclusions of this event point to obstacles faced by the chemical recycling processes at technological, manufacturing, economic and organisational level. These challenges are common by the entire value chain towards the industrial-scale for chemical recycling technologies.

A follow-up workshop will be organised during the next semester.

Read the full report of the Workshop here.