Plea for ‘clarity’ over chemical recycling as study hails ‘circularity milestone’

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Material created by the ExxonMobil chemical recycling process

More plastic was recycled than landfilled across Europe for the first time in 2022, according to a new report.

The study, from producers body Plastics Europe, hailed the finding as an “important circularity milestone”.

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But it added: “Further investment in sorting and recycling infrastructure and technology is required to … ensure the demand for recycled content can be met.”

Circular Economy for Plastics – A European Analysis 2024 found that the use of post-consumer plastic in new products grew by 70 per cent between 2018 and 2022.

The agriculture sector led the way with recycled content, at 37.5 per cent, while the electrical industry was using just 3.2 per cent in its items, the report said.

Meanwhile just 0.1 per cent of all plastic produced in 2022 had been chemically recycled.

Plastics Europe managing director Virginia Janssens said: “The continent-wide roll-out of chemical recycling, as a complementary solution to mechanical recycling, is essential to meet ambitious mandatory recycled content targets for applications and industries that require high-quality plastics.

“To incentivise the necessary investments and ramp up the deployment of chemical recycling in Europe we urgently need a green light and clarity from EU policy makers.”