Chemicals are a critical, but often overlooked, factor of success for a circular economy. 96% of all products on European markets, from food to medical treatments, from buildings to consumer electronics, rely on chemicals, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But what does circularity mean for the future of the chemicals industry? Should it embrace circular systems or resist them?
Consumers appreciate recyclates in packaging as long as it doesn’t affect the quality, functionality and price of the product. But how do companies remain competitive in view of added costs for high-quality recycling and the low price of virgin plastics?
Plastics recycling is as much of a challenge as an opportunity for the circular economy. In Europe, amidst growing public concern, new regulation and voluntary pledges from the industry, the problem is that so little of the plastic that is collected actually gets turned into new material. In this article, I investigate whether chemical recycling can make the plastics value chain more circular and what it takes for it to providing a profitable new industry branch.