On February 20, 2019, German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz hosted a policy briefing on the topic of chemical recycling with 50 stakeholders from the European Parliament (EP), European Commission (EC), civil society, and industry. A summary of the event along with the slides from presentations given and relevant publications have been made available. Speakers at the event included representatives from the EC, waste management company Veolia, chemical manufacturer BASF, and consultancy CE Delft.

Karmenu Vella is the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. He commented that “the Commission is eager to learn more about chemical recycling” and that “reliable Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data is needed on energy demand, CO2 balance and other potential environmental impacts. Also, questions on hazardous substances need to be answered.” Regarding the European Union’s recycling targets (FPF reported), Vella noted that “recycling processes which lead to the generation of new materials can contribute to [their] fulfillment,” however “reprocessing waste into fuel . . . cannot be counted as recycling.” The EC recently released a report focused on research and innovation insights related to plastics in the circular economy (FPF reported).

Stefan Gräfer from BASF presented the company’s “ChemCycling” project aimed “to develop a recycling solution for waste which is currently incinerated or land-filled.” He shared that BASF has “for the first time fed waste-based feed-stock into [their] production” and that they have “established a third-party verified approach for the calculation of allocated recycled content.”

Geert Bergsma from CE Delft presented the results of a study conducted for the Dutch government, which found that “chemical recycling would save in the order of 1.5 [tonnes] CO2 equivalent per ton of input waste compared to incineration.” During the question and answer session, presenters agreed “that chemical recycling should not be used as an alternative to waste reduction, reuse, or to efforts to make plastics more recyclable with existing processes.”

Read more

EP (March 2019). “Chemical Recycling – The missing Piece to Plastics Circularity.