New Roads for plastics

A JakajimaTV interview hosted by Pieter Hermans with Karl Vrancken, Research Manager Sustainable Materials, VITO / Professor, University of Antwerp

Europe is at a crossroads for the way it manages plastic, plastic waste, and plastic waste trade. Plastic and plastic waste is traded worldwide. Exports from the EU to Asia have been a means to deal with insufficient recycling capacities in the EU. Waste import restrictions in China and Hong Kong have triggered a shift of exports to other countries.

Since some types of plastic waste have been added to the UN Basel Convention, the option of exporting plastic waste is becoming increasingly difficult, requiring to build a more robust and circular economy for plastic in Europe.

This triggers the need for expanding the existing recycling capacity with new chemical recycling processes. The challenge is to develop value chains such that this new capacity will be complementary to the existing mechanical recycling processes, and allow to reach the recycling goals put forward be the European Circular Economy Action Plan.

Karl Vrancken will speak at the Plastic Wast 2 Plastic Conference, visit the site.

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Karl Vrancken (°1969), is research manager sustainable materials management at VITO. He is responsible for the strategic management of VITO’s Materials programme and senior expert on circular economy. He has a part-time assignment as professor at the University of Antwerp (Dept. Bio-engineering), where he teaches sustainable resources management.

After an education as a Doctor in Chemistry (University of Antwerp, 1995), he worked as a training and development manager in the environmental engineering industry. He has broad experience as a researcher, project and team manager in projects on circular economy, waste management and treatment, secondary raw materials, best available techniques (BAT) and integrated pollution prevention and control.

He worked as a Detached National Expert with the European IPPC Bureau in Seville (Spain), where he was the author of the BREF (BAT Reference Document) for the Foundries sector. Karl was vice-chairman of the board of PlanC, the Flemish transition arena on sustainable materials management. Karl is consortium chairman of the EEA European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials for a Green Economy and chairman of the European Circular Economy Research Alliance.

He is the scientific chair of the circular economy track of the Global Science and Technology Innovation Conference, (GSTIC). He was co-founder interim Chief Operations Officer (iCOO) of the knowledge and innovation community (KIC) EIT Raw Materials. He is a respected expert and speaker on circular economy in the media and at various national and international conferences.

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