In an article published on July 14, 2020, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) together with four other NGOs announced the release of a joint statement  with “7 key steps to effectively regulate chemical recycling so as to avoid a scenario whereby chemical recycling becomes a loophole preventing the achievement of objectives related to the EU circular economy, climate and sustainable chemical policies.” With the increase in the promotion of chemical recycling as a solution to the growing amounts of plastic waste and push towards a circular economy, the organization discusses outstanding questions about the technology and calls for appropriately assessing it. These 7 steps are:

  1. “Review EU waste legislation to introduce harmonized definitions of chemical recycling technologies
  2. Clarify the legal status of chemical recycling technologies in the waste hierarchy
  3. Limit chemical recycling feedstock to contaminated and degraded durable plastics
  4. Evaluate environmental and health impacts of chemical recycling at the industrial level
  5. Establish a robust methodology for calculating the climate impact of chemical recycling
  6. Develop a standard to establish the actual recycled content qualitatively and quantitatively
  7. Limit EU funding to chemical recycling processes that have a lower carbon footprint than the production of plastic from virgin feedstock.”

Janek Vahk from ZWE commented that the expectations placed on chemical recycling need to be limited, as it has not yet been proven to be a scalable solution. “There is a clear risk that putting too much focus on downstream innovation could undermine preventive measures such as limiting the presence of hazardous substances in the materials and products, and waste generation in the first place.”

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Janek Vahk (July 14, 2020). “Chemical Recycling legislation should take a precautionary approach to ensure prevention measures remain at the core of the EU’s Circular Economy promises.” Zero Waste Europe

Chemical Watch (July 16, 2020). “NGOs propose steps for effective EU regulation of chemical recycling.”

Janek Vähk (July 22, 2020). “NGO Platform: Why the precautionary principle must apply to chemical recycling.” Chemical Watch


ZWE (July 14, 2020). “Joint Statement on Chemical Recycling: 7 Steps to Effectively Legislate on Chemical Recycling.” (pdf)