On November 11, 2021, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced the publication of a new report it commissioned investigating different chemical recycling technologies and their potentials to contribute to a circular economy. It specifically finds that regulatory issues related to the management and removal of chemicals of concern during the recycling process are not being sufficiently addressed in the field or discussed in scientific papers. The opportunities and challenges associated with chemicals and product safety legislations vary depending on the chemical recycling technology. Therefore, the agency recommends “that the regulatory issues are studied on a case-by-case basis, separately for each type of chemical recycling technology.”

The report finds that “there is little knowledge about the abilities of different chemical recycling processes to eliminate substances of concern.” It therefore suggests that studies are carried out at recycling plants to understand how efficiently such substances are removed. Considering the contributions towards a circular economy for plastics, ECHA recommends that “the potential of specific technologies should be evaluated case-by-case to avoid false generalizations on the pros and cons of one technology for the whole field of chemical recycling.”



European Chemicals Agency (August 2021). “Chemical Recycling of Polymeric Materials from Waste in the Circular Economy.” (pdf)

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ECHA (December 2, 2021). “REACH requirements need to be considered in chemical recycling.”