CHEM Trust commissioned Eunomia to review available information on different chemical recycling technologies and to assess their performance, feasibility and how they could fit into existing waste management systems, focusing particularly on their energy use, climate impacts, and handling of hazardous chemicals.

The final report, Chemical Recycling: State of Play, outlines that current technologies for chemical recycling, which attempts to recycle plastics by altering their material structure, encounter multiple problems including high energy use, a reliance on good quality, pre-sorted plastic input and trouble dealing with hazardous chemicals. The report found that some chemical recycling technologies performed better than others, but more and better quality information on current technologies is needed to be able to properly verify claims made by the chemical recycling industry and to come to definitive conclusions.

The report looks at the three main chemical recycling technologies – solvent purification, chemical depolymerisation and thermal depolymerisation – their environmental impact, and considerations for calculating chemical recycling’s contribution to recycling rates and measuring recycled content of plastic products where the feedstock comes from chemical recycling.

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