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Chemical Recycling Makes Waste Plastic a Resource

By Scott Jenkins |

With an eye toward a circular economy, technology developers are advancing a host of new approaches to chemical recycling of post-use commodity plastics Plastics are indispensable parts of almost every sector of the economy, with wide-ranging economic, environmental and convenience benefits in their use stage. But increasingly, the sheer volume of plastics produced (estimated at well over 300 million metric tons annually) presents environmental risks if the material is not captured, and represents a waste of resources if the material is disposed of in landfills. Currently, only a small fraction of commodity plastics are recycled globally (some estimates peg the number at 14%), while the majority end up in landfills, incinerators or in the environment, particularly the ocean. The past two years have seen an acceleration and expansion of efforts aimed at addressing the issues associated with waste plastic. Stakeholders from several industries and from along the plastic value chain are involved in a host of plastic-waste initiatives (see below, “Coordinated Efforts in Plastics Recycling”). One aspect of the overall effort is to foster the idea that plastic waste can be a resource and that even single-use plastics have…
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