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.

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Closing the loop for engineering plastic waste using advanced physical recycling methods

Norbert Fraunholcz

Engineering plastics (e.g., ABS, PC and PMMA) have superior mechanical properties, such as strength and gloss. Therefore, they are primarily used in high-end products, such as electrical and electronic (E&E) devices and passenger cars. When it comes to end-of-life solutions, closed-loop recycling is the only sustainable option for this group of plastics. This is mainly due to a lack of alternative product applications to absorb lower-grade recycled material in quantity. In turn, closed-loop recycling implies very high quality requirements on the recycled material to replace virgin resins.

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Chemical Recycling Europe and the European Plastic Waste Landscape

Chemical Recycling Europe (ChemRecEurope) has brought together the chemical recycling industry in Europe to tackle the problem of plastic waste. This presentation will cover a background of ChemRecEurope and more about the plastic waste situation in Europe as a whole, as well as some key policy opportunities and challenges.

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Feedstock recycling of PLA – a biobased polymer goes circular

Plastics from renewable resources like polylactide (PLA) are gaining more and more market share. With the proliferation of PLA, issues concerning the end-of-life options of PLA products gain more and more importance. One possibility, regarded as being the most favorable several years ago, is the processing of PLA in industrial composting plants.

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What is chemical recycling / pyrolysis?

Chemical recycling today often refers to technologies that can be classed depending on the level at which they break down the plastic waste. Concretely, the technologies can be divided into 3 types:

  • Solvent-based purification. Comprises technologies that go down to the polymer stage. They are capable of decontaminating the plastic but cannot address its degradation. They work only with monostreams (PVC, PS, PE, PP).
  • Chemical depolymerisation. Chemical process which turns the plastics back into their monomers. Allows for decontamination but not addressing degradation. Only works with monostreams (PET, PU, PA, PLA, PC, PHA, PEF).
  • Thermal depolymerisation and cracking (pyrolysis and gasification) are energy-intensive processes which turn the polymers back into simpler molecules. They are capable of decontaminating polymers and, by bringing plastic back to its original building blocks, addressing the degradation of the material. These technologies can deal with more than one monomer at a time and are also capable of producing fuels. This raises the need for strict regulatory controls to prevent plastic being turned into fuel in lieu of recycling.
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