In an article published on February 8, 2019 by news provider ICIS, the director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Bjorn Hansen, was interviewed about his views on achieving a circular economy for chemicals. He said that “while the idea of a circular economy makes good headlines, the EU would not be anywhere near the beginning of the task.” Investment in innovation, he stressed, is still greatly needed to achieve true circularity of materials in our society. “In 50 or 60 years we could get a lot more circular; it will take decades. The materials we use today are not circular, they are linear with a few loops. PET [polyethylene terephthalate] bottles can be recycled eight times, and then the material cannot be used anymore. PVC [polyvinyl chloride] can be recycled a few times, and then disposed of,” Hansen said.
According to Hansen, chemicals instead need to be used in “innovative products which can actually be recycled.” “The earlier we decide to switch [from a linear to a circular economy], the more investments in innovation we need.” Once we achieve fully recyclable products, Hansen envisions that “the combination of waste and chemicals regulation will be a must” in order for a successful circular economy in the EU (FPF reported).
ICIS (February 8, 2019). “Circular economy will require ‘heavy’ investments in new chemicals – ECHA chief.”