Speaker insights from Quantafuel

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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

 

Dr. Christian Lach 

CCO & Deputy CEO

Quantafuel
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Dr. Christian Lach 

CCO & Deputy CEO

Quantafuel 


Presentation: 

Challenges and solutions to make chemical recycling a reality 

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.

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

The most striking thing for me was that chemical recycling is something that can be done, but whether or not it will become reality depends on the regulatory background. Chemical recycling will only be able to compete with fossil resources if those are penalized financially, or chemical recycling is subsidized. A very strange and volatile environment to be operating in.

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

Chemical recycling is in the end a technology in competition with the use of fossil raw materials. This means that chemical recycling also competes with more than a hundred years of optimization regarding logistics, processes, and equipment. A new process will not be able to compete at least until a scale of several million tons has been reached. The EU should make clear that chemical recycling will be counted towards defined recycling targets in order to benefit from the resulting gate fees and support a mass balance approach that allows for the use of existing assets and the allocation of the recycled content to consumer goods companies asking for it. This will fulfil all targets of the circular economy while speeding implementation via these bridging approaches.

What challenges remain to developing chemical recycling at scale?

Defining the complementarity of mechanical and chemical recycling with regard to waste streams by finding the optimal sorting approach to maximize overall recycling rate. For chemical recycling, there is a trade-off between chemical purity of a hydrocarbon feedstock which will result in the highest achievable yield on the one hand, and the value of these feedstocks on the other hand, and the operating cost and investment needed to upgrade pyrolysis oil from less controlled feedstock to oil of adequate quality for downstream uses.

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

The most common misconception I hear is that it is a massively energy-intensive process consuming lots of external energy. While we have to heat our reactors to several hundred degrees, the energy for this may come from burning the gas fraction generated in the process which accounts for around 10% of the treated volume. Compared to alternatives which all send a reject stream into incineration, in my mind the chemical recycling technology is quite efficient. Several life cycle analyses show that while for clean plastics fractions mechanical recycling is ecologically superior to chemical recycling, that picture changes with deteriorating purity of the feed precisely because then the fraction sent to incineration increases, by far surpassing our 10% used for heating.


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

We will talk about how Quantafuel is working to make chemical recycling reality at a relevant scale across Europe.