Towards a Circular Economy

Moving our linear fossil based economy towards a circular economy means changing from a liquid, fossil based feedstock to a solid, waste based feedstock. This poses significant technical challenges but also opportunities for the development and deployment of new, novel technologies and solutions. In this presentation we will be touching at a high level on the requirements and challenges of these technologies. And based on technological developments we will be presenting a look into the near and farther future.

Presented by Tom Housmans, Leader Global Chemical Recycling at SABIC.

The view of the speaker

Question 1: What drives you?
As a chemical engineer, I have always been driven to find solutions to existing problems. With a strong focus circular economy solutions, I feel I am directly working on the solution to one of the world’s most significant problems.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
My presentation will be giving a glimps into a brighter, circular, more sustainable future that is achievable with technical solutions today.

Question 3: What emerging technologies / trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
I see environmental pollution and climate change as one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) drivers for change on our planet. It affects us all and is something we cannot escape from. Therefore it forces us to rethink the way we produce, consume and dispose of products, directly affecting the way we live. On the short term we can see that more and more producers will be shifting towards more circular and sustainable products and production methods. But in the longer run, I can image far reaching changes in our society beyond only production.

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Personally I believe that, next to the disappearance of the wasteful “disposal society”, we will see significant changes in the way our products are designed, produced, used, disposed of, collected and ultimately recycled. Design for reuse, repair and recycling will make sure that products enjoy a longer useful life and at the end are more easily returned as feedstock for new products. During the production process the focus will shift more and more to net zero Greenhouse gas emissions. While optimized/new collection methods and waste separation technologies will ensure that more and more disposed products find their way back as feedstock for new products. This entire chain of changes will ensure that circularity is enhanced more and more going into the future.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Our industry, the chemical industry is complex, we are operating in some of the most challenging sectors in terms of carbon neutrality, and we know there is much more still to do. We also know that we can’t do this alone. Building the right network of collaborating partners, engaging with legislators, knowledge institutes and NGOs will be essential to increase the chance of success in finding the solutions to the challenges of our industry.

Tom Housmans is speaker at the 2022 edition of the Circular Chemistry Conference.

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