Technological watch

Market report points out key drivers of circular economy

IDTechEx has undertaken research which indicates that a key requirement for every company in the polymer value chain is to develop and deliver a sustainability roadmap. × pressure on circular economy The market drivers are becoming more significant, and industry activity is responding accordingly. There are an emerging number of solutions, but in many cases, the economic and environmental viability remains unfounded. 

The market drivers influencing the progression to greater sustainability across the polymer industry come from four main entities: governments (through regulation), retailers or brands, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or equivalent, and the public. Lobbying, investments, pledges, consumer spending habits, and more all play a role, but it is likely regulation and how they are monitored and enforced that will be the most significant. 

IDTechEx has three reports on sustainable polymers covering the recycling of plastic waste,assessing the use of bio-based and CO2 feedstocks. Each of these solutions has a range of technical challenges. Crude oil prices have been exceptionally turbulent, presenting challenges. The success of all approaches will depend not only on the product properties but also on the “green premium” and the ability to decouple prices from the incumbent raw materials. 

Plastic Recycling

Recycling is critical in establishing a truly circular economy. Expectedly, mechanical recycling processes continue to progress, but throughout 2022 and continuing into 2023, significant industrial activity has and will surround chemical recycling - most notably in depolymerization and pyrolysis projects. This remains controversial, with NGOs accusing players of “greenwashing” and petrochemical giants leveraging third-party life cycle assessments and championing this as the key piece of the puzzle. This debate will rage on. IDTechEx reviews the claims in its latest report on “Chemical Recycling and Dissolution of Plastics 2023-2033” but ultimately thinks that there is a beneficial role for these processes. 

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Publication date: 01/12/2022

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

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