Chemical Recycling Plastic Waste: Justified Hype or Hinderance?

R. Collins
United States

Keywords: polymer recycling, circular economy, pyrolysis, depolymerisation, chemical recycling


The chemical recycling of plastic waste is held up by many companies as the solution to a circular economy and reducing their carbon footprint, but to others it is perceived as a misleading red herring. IDTechEx provide technical market intelligence on emerging technologies and in tracking the industry expect the input capacity for chemical recycling of plastic waste to grow from under 500 ktpa in 2021 to over 5000 ktpa by 2025. There are a range of processes including dissolution, depolymerisation, pyrolysis, and gasification; the market will be dominated by pyrolysis, where most of the notable funding, partnerships, and expansions are being established and announced. A large question remains around the economic viability and life cycle assessments, typically using a mass balance approach, of these processes and technology improvements supporting the grade of feedstocks that can be used, yields, and energy efficiency are underway to support this. There are also exciting technology developments, hydrothermal processes proving are competitive to thermal pyrolysis and PET depolymerisation has numerous approaches from glycolysis and hydrolysis to emerging enzymatic approaches to name just two. In this presentation, IDTechEx will provide: - Critical independent assessment of the incumbent and emerging polymer recycling technologies. - An overview of the key developments and players in this field. - An outlook on the planned chemical recycling projects - A view of the industry pain points and criticisms