Technological watch

Advanced Recycling Technologies Offer Tremendous Economic, Environmental Promise

WASHINGTON (June 3, 2020) – Earlier today, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA),released a report on chemical recycling. The American Chemistry Councilresponded with the following statement, which may be attributed to KeithChristman, managing director of plastic markets:

Scientists, businesses, and nonprofit organizations around the world are excited about chemical recycling, also known as advanced recycling, because it increases the types and volumes of plastics that can be recycled and repurposed into useful products, while helping to conserve resources such as energy and water.

Closed Loop Partners (CLP), an investment firm focused on building the circular economy, recently found that advanced recycling technologies could help unlock a $120 billion market in the United States and Canada.

Additionally, a recent peer-reviewed study by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) found that pyrolysis, a common advanced recycling technology that converts plastics back into basic hydrocarbon building blocks, helps to reduce fossil fuel use by 96 percent and water use by 58 percent throughout a product’s life cycle. ANL also determined that 75 percent of plastics processed through pyrolysis were converted into liquid hydrocarbons, the feedstocks for new products such as new plastics, chemicals, waxes and ultra-low-sulfur transportation fuels.

America’s plastics makers are committed to eliminating plastic waste and to optimizing the sustainability of our products and operations. We believe that advanced recycling will help to accelerate the modernization of plastics recycling in the United States and around the globe.

Rapidly emerging advanced recycling technologies are already converting a wide variety of traditionally non-recycled post-use plastics into useful fuels or specialty chemicals to make new plastics and other products. Select examples include:

Since China said it would stop importing mixed used plastics in mid-2017, the private sector has announced nearly $5 billion in investments to modernize plastics recycling in the United States, roughly 80 percent of which is aimed at advanced recycling.

Publication date: 04/06/2020

American Plastics Council

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31