Speaker insights from Recycling Technologies 

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About Chemical Recycling 

Ahead of the Chemical Recycling conference we took the opportunity to gather industry insights from our speakers.

We spoke to them about the lessons learned through chemical recycling, EU legislation, challenges, common misconceptions and what they will be speaking about at the Chemical Recycling conference in September.  

27 -28  September 2021

Düsseldorf, Germany

 

Adrian Griffiths
CEO
Recycling Technologies

AMI’s Chemical Recycling 2021 Conference will address the various challenges and opportunities in the chemical recycling market and bring together experts from across the supply chain to discuss the latest trends and developments in this dynamic market.

Key areas of focus include global market trends, the variety of technologies, outputs and processes available, and how the industry can work together to integrate chemical recycling into the waste hierarchy as a viable process on an industrial scale. This conference will be a fantastic opportunity to engage with key industry players at an event that encourages discussion, debate and ideas sharing.

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Adrian Griffiths
CEO
Recycling Technologies  


Presentation: Chemical recycling: The next 20 years 

What is the most important lesson you have learned through your work on chemical recycling? 

After ten years in this sector, I have learned that, to make a real difference, a whole team effort is required.  Everyone must lean in and help make this happen: resource management companies, technology developers, petrochemical companies, legislators, investors, brand owners and NGOs. We all must share a common vision for chemical recycling to achieve its potential. Any one of these parties can point to the problems and hinder progress but working together we can and must drastically increase recycling capacity and make plastic a more sustainable material.  

How does EU legislation support or hinder the development of chemical recycling technologies? 

Investment is essential for any innovation to succeed, and investment decisions are hindered by legislative uncertainty. For chemical recycling there are still open discussions on whether it will be classified as recycling, its role within extended producer responsibility frameworks, and which accounting methodology is the appropriate way to measure recovered feedstock through refining and polymer production. More certainty around these points needs to be achieved in order for structural investment to really support the growth and development of chemical recycling.

What challenges remain to developing chemical recycling at scale?

The main challenge to scaling chemical recycling is securing the required investment. Over the last 10 years around 118 million tonnes per annum of new polymer production capacity has been added around the world boosting production from 250 to 368Mt per annum. This has come at a cost of at least $600 billion, or $5 billion per million tonnes of capacity. If ‘oil-to-plastic’ technologies receive these investment amounts, why should one anticipate that ‘plastic-to-oil’ technologies can be achieved with a different order of magnitude of investment? If we are truly committed to creating a circular economy, we should be investing similar amounts for both conversions. If chemical recycling is to provide feedstock for the production of circa 300Mt pa of plastic by 2050, as predicted by McKinsey, perhaps it is not unreasonable to expect an investment of 1.5 trillion USD to be necessary?   

What common misconceptions do people have about advanced / chemical recycling? How can these be addressed?

Chemical recycling is an umbrella term for feedstock recycling, monomer recycling and purification. This causes confusion as to what it is, how it works, and which plastics it can recycle. Some believe that chemical recycling is in direct competition with mechanical recycling. The reality is that these two sectors, mechanical and chemical recycling, should collaborate to create a better understanding of their respective strengths and weaknesses, of each and how to select the right pathway for each item of discarded plastic.

You will be speaking at the Chemical Recycling Conference 2021, could you give us a little preview on what you will be talking about?

The future of plastic recycling requires product designers to communicate with resource management companies to ensure that plastic is designed from the start for an appropriate recycling pathway. Feedstock recycling is one available pathway and great progress is being made to ensure that it is scalable in an economically and environmentally friendly way. I will be sharing my view on how the system may eventually be structured and look at some of the infrastructural barriers that need to be overcome.