Chemical recycling

Chemical recycling is a relatively new processing technique for plastic packaging waste that will make it possible to recycle more streams of plastic waste in the future, making it a promising innovation for the Netherlands. Aiming for the circular use of raw materials and carbon reduction, the Transition Agenda for Plastics contains the ambition of achieving an annual chemical recycling output of 250 kilotonnes by 2030. Several chemical recycling initiatives have been launched in the Netherlands in recent years, but there are still several challenges to overcome.

What is chemical recycling?

KIDV follows the definition of chemical recycling set out in the National Waste Management Plan (LAP 3). For a recycling process to be considered a chemical recycling process, its output must be used as a raw material, not as a fuel. Incidentally, chemical recycling techniques have a much wider range of applications than packaging waste alone and can also be used to recycle other plastic products.

This animation briefly explains the four main techniques used in chemical and physical recycling (only available in Dutch).

Benefits of chemical recycling

Currently, approximately 50% of plastic packaging waste from households and companies is recycled mechanically. Unfortunately, our current techniques and recycling facilities are not capable of recycling all types of plastic packaging. With chemical recycling, however, we would be able to recycle these streams. With chemical recycling:

  • It is possible to separate different types of plastics and materials used in the same packaging.
  • It is possible to separate dyes and additives from the packaging material.
  • It is possible to use recycled plastics in food packaging.

Analysis and scaling options

Companies that use and produce packaging can play an important role in scaling up chemical recycling by using chemically recycled plastics for new packaging, for example. On top of that, companies can partner up with chemical recycling start-ups by offering them a guaranteed supply of input material or purchasing raw materials.

The new techniques are promising, but chemical recycling is still in its infancy. The KIDV has identified the various opportunities offered by chemical recycling techniques for plastic packaging, looking at potential input streams, climate impact, process costs, investments, and obstacles posed by policies and regulations.
Chris Bruijnes, director KIDV

Which challenges will we have to overcome before plastic packaging can be chemically recycled on a large scale and which actions should we take to get there? Find out more in the report below.

Roadmap Chemische Recycling Plastics 2030 NL

The Netherlands wants 10% of domestic plastics production to be replaced by recyclate from chemical recycling by 2030. In March 2021, the Roadmap Chemical Recycling Plastics 2030 NL was presented, a plan aimed at accelerating the financing of chemical recycling in NL. This 'roadmap for more chemical recycling in the Netherlands' was drawn up by the Acceleration Table for Chemical Recycling. The plan sets out points on which (national or European) policy is needed for more support, such as a uniform approach to recycled materials and the removal of trade barriers. The government also wants to improve the business case for recycling by working towards a European obligation for the application of recyclate and by steering towards better separation of recyclable materials.

Click here to download the roadmap.

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