ecoprog : Study on global market on chemical ...

Study on global market on chemical recycling

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

In the global fight against plastic waste, one of the greatest hopes lies in chemical recycling. This technology involves breaking down the molecular structure of plastic and using it to produce a basic substance for the production of new plastics. In this way, it is expected that the downcycling, that is often inevitable in mechanical recycling can be avoided and new waste streams can be fed into this ambitious recycling process.  Currently, there are few topics in waste management that polarize as strongly as chemical recycling does. For supporters, chemical recycling offers the opportunity to fully recycle plastics in the future without downcycling. In addition, contaminated and mixed waste streams that currently cannot be recycled mechanically should also be possible to be recycled through chemical recycling. Critics, on the other hand, mainly find fault with the high CO2 emissions from chemical recycling. They fear that waste streams are being diverted from a more climate-friendly mechanical recycling process in order to be treated in this way.
In this context, the consulting company ecoprog GmbH, Cologne/Germany, has examined the global market for chemical recycling in detail. There are currently about 20 chemical recycling facilities in operation worldwide. Most of these plants cannot be considered as final commercial plants but are mainly used for further research of this technology.
At the same time, the planning of chemical recycling plants is booming. Worldwide, more than 90 projects were planned at the end of 2021, an overwhelming majority of them in Europe. High energy consumption and the still uncertain technical issues speak against chemical recycling. This applies in particular to the purification of the output from depolymerization, such as pyrolysis oil, from contaminants and additives. The discussion about the political classification of chemical recycling also threatens the implementation of the same.
Nevertheless, chemical recycling is a potential key technology in the future production of plastics, which may account for large market shares in the coming years. It therefore primarily affects the business model of the chemical industry and the mineral oil industry, which produce plastics or provide the raw material for them derived from crude oil.
Consequently, the companies that are currently particularly active in chemical recycling also come from these industries. In addition, there are mainly waste companies that provide the corresponding material streams and start-ups whose founding ideas relate to the technical evaluation of the process.
"Trend Study – Chemical Recycling" by ecoprog examines the technical fundamentals, market factors, development status, plant inventory, projects and competition in the field of chemical recycling worldwide. The study is available at

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