In an opinion piece published by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch on March 9, 2020, Director General of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), Marco Mensink, discusses how he believes chemical recycling can be used to accelerate safe plastic recycling in the EU. With the recycling rate of plastics in the EU at just 15%, Mensink writes that increasing this rate should be an urgent priority, especially considering the goals of the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan (FPF reported). Cefic sees chemical recycling as a key tool in supporting with this increase and says the chemical industry’s role is to help scale up the technology to become a viable option for recycling. Specifically, the technology is being viewed as complementary to mechanical recycling with the added ability to recycle mixed plastic wastes and to remove hazardous legacy chemicals from plastic waste streams. Plastics produced from chemically recycled feedstocks should also have the quality as virgin plastics and therefore also be safe for use in sensitive applications such as food packaging and medical equipment.

Mensink further describes the need to build the business case for scaling-up chemical recycling to attract investment. Existing chemical recycling projects and facilities are not yet profitable because “current waste policies were not designed to promote investment in chemical recycling – and therefore they do not recognize chemical recycling as a viable technology,” he writes. Cefic also recently published a position paper on chemical recycling in which it advocates for increasing cooperation throughout the plastics supply chain and developing quality standards for sorted and pre-treated plastic waste. The organization also wants policymakers to: (i) support development of a policy framework that ensure competitiveness with mechanical recycling, (ii) develop harmonized recycled content rules for products, and (iii) ensure an open and single market for plastic waste within Europe and potentially for waste imports into Europe.

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Marco Mensink (March 9, 2020). “How can chemical recycling accelerate safe plastic recycling in the EU?Chemical Watch

Cefic (March 2020). “Introducing chemical recycling: Plastic waste becoming a resource.” (pdf)

Cefic (March 2020). “Chemical Recycling.”

Cefic (July 20, 2020). “Chemical recycling is essential for the EU to achieve its circular economy goals.”

Clelia Oziel (July 22, 2020). “Cefic defends chemical recycling, calls for ‘enabling’ policies.Chemical Watch