Industry experts AMI expect fast growth in chemical plastics recycling to complement mechanical recycling. Plastics use and waste, especially in packaging, continues to grow, even in Europe. Mechanical recycling capacity is insufficient. Plastic use and waste per inhabitant increased nearly 25% in Europe 2009-2019, with some 30 million tonnes of plastic waste produced of which only 41% recycled by 2021. Investment in chemical recycling capacity is expected to increase from 2.6 billion € 2025 to 7.2 billion € in 2030, resulting in chemical recycling of maybe 10% of plastic waste. The AMI special industry summary “Chemical Recycling. Global Insight 2022” outlines the different types of chemical plastics recycling process (solvent dissolution = polymer recovery, depolymerisation = monomer recovery and thermal cracking = pyrolysis or gasification), and presents leading companies and developments in each technology worldwide. Mixed polyolefins can be recycled by pyrolysis, but presence of halogenated flame retardants or oxygen-rich polymers excludes pyrolysis. More specific dissolution or depolymerisation technologies will be needed for PET or polystyrene. AMI conclude that chemical recycling is adapted for non-homogenous plastics waste streams, but nonetheless does require sorted streams, and that competition with mechanical recycling for plastic feedstock streams is unlikely to be significant.
AMI “Chemical Recycling. Global Insight 2022” https://content.yudu.com/web/1rl19/0A44ate/CRGIDecember2021/index.html