AMI predicts a positive future for global chemical recycling sector

AMI predicts a positive future for global chemical recycling sector

September 15, 2020
Press Release: AMI Consulting

AMI Consulting has published a brand-new report on the global chemical recycling industry, which provides a comprehensive view of the current status of chemical recycling of commodity polymers, market drivers, growth dynamics as well as a forecast for future development

The amount of plastic waste in the environment has become a major concern for both regulators and the general public. There has been a huge drive toward sustainability and the ‘circular economy’ in recent years.

Legislative measures are being introduced to curb the plastic waste production and to include more recycled content into everyday products, with Europe leading the way. Significant volumes of waste had been exported to China, until the country introduced its ‘National Sword’ policy in 2018, which effectively banned the import of plastic waste, leaving many nations without a destination for their plastic waste. In addition, many brands are proactively looking to include more recycled content in their packaging.

Recycling technologies currently in operation, largely based on mechanical recycling, are not suited to processing a significant portion of post-consumer waste. Emerging chemical recycling technologies are, however, capable of addressing this fraction.

AMI Consulting estimates that global plastic post-consumer waste volumes were 215 million tons in 2019, of which just over 10% was recycled. Chemical recycling of plastics is a promising approach to meet the recycling targets and to introduce a circular economic model to plastics manufacturing. With chemical recycling, the plastic material can be turned back into a polymeric feed-stock. It enables the recycling of plastic materials that cannot currently be mechanically recycled, including contaminated, multi-layer and mixed plastics. Compared with landfilling, chemical recycling is the superior environmental option. There is undoubtedly a space in the waste hierarchy for chemical recycling to occupy.

Chemical recycling operations are now being developed across the world. Most are currently either laboratory or pilot scale, although a number of industrial-scale facilities will come on stream in the next few years. AMI Consulting has grouped chemical recycling operations into four technologies: depolymerization, dissolution (solvent-based purification), gasification and pyrolysis. Recycling based on dissolution is technically a physical process as the polymer chain remains intact throughout.

A number of companies are investigating each technology. Major projects are already underway in Europe and North America, and going forward Asia is also expected to gain a substantial market share, with developments tending to be a few years behind Europe and North America. With such momentum, chemical recycling will establish itself as a significant technology by 2030.

AMI Consulting’s study, Chemical Recycling – Global Status 2020, quantifies the global market for chemical recycling in terms of the amount of plastic waste chemically recycled by region, polymer and technology through to 2030. It also quantifies the amount of post-consumer plastic waste potentially available for chemical recycling. Key trends and various factors affecting the market are discussed in depth, and the activities of main players currently active in the market reviewed.

The study is relevant to all those seeking to better understand chemical recycling, from resin producers through to brand owners/end users of plastic products and regulators. The report delivers a comprehensive assessment of the current industrial situation and forecasts future developments of the sector.

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