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The Digital Dialogue “Chemical Recycling: Can it solve the plastic crisis?” is hosted and managed by Euractiv.

Chemical Recycling: Can it solve the plastic crisis?

Chemical recycling has a role to play to solve the plastic waste issues but speakers varied in opinion on the extent to which it can provide solutions. There was consensus that a mix of different solutions both up and downstream will address the challenges associated with plastic waste. Key points:

  • Questions need to be addressed on scalability, environmental/climate performance (COfootprint), actual recycling yields, quality of recycled materials, available waste as feedstock, and the economic viability. While speakers shared different assessments on chemical recycling performance, it was agreed that more data is needed.
  • The enabling conditions for chemical recycling to work was discussed; a level-playing field with other technologies, a common understanding about the calculation of recycling rates, standardisation, tax incentives for recycled content as in the UK and funding schemes under Horizon Europe.
  • It was highlighted that only chemical recycling technologies that convert plastic waste to new plastics should be considered as recycling. Pierre Barthélemy explained that while industry agrees that chemical recycling to fuel should not be considered as recycling, it would be unwise to exclude chemical recycling to feedstock or monomer as recycling options.

“We believe that chemical recycling fills a gap; it’s a necessary technology to increase the circularity of plastics. We need to make sure that we do not waste these valuable resources that we can use in the chemical industry and close the loop.” Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation – Cefic

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Speakers

  • Hans-Christian Eberl, Policy Officer, Circular Economy and Biobased Systems, DG RTD, European Commission
  • Maria Spyraki MEP, Member, ITRE Committee, European Parliament
  • Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation, Cefic
  • Yonathan Shiran, Circular Economy Expert, SYSTEMIQ
  • Janek Vähk, Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe