Chemical recycling isn’t the miracle solution it is made out to be

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Up until recently, not many had even heard about chemical recycling – now everyone is talking about it. This new buzzword has been portrayed as the solution to all our plastic recycling problems, but what does it actually mean?

First of all, the current debate on chemical recycling centers on recycling plastic waste. Nowadays, plastic material is found everywhere, not only in products but also in our environment, most notably in our oceans with reports predicting that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

359 million tonnes of plastic were produced in the world last year alone and, unfortunately, a large amount of plastic material is burned or goes into landfills because it cannot be recycled. To get a handle on the problem, we need to rethink the way we produce and use plastics as well as find a way to improve recyclability and increase plastic recycling.

Proponents of chemical plastic recycling argue that this is where the novel method has a role to play.

While the more traditional mechanical recycling recycles plastic waste into “new” raw materials without changing the basic structure of the material, chemical recycling breaks the plastic waste down to molecular level in order to produce “new” material from its building blocks.



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