The Issues With Chemical Recycling Are Familiar

With increasing awareness of environmental issues, recycling technologies are being developed across the world, alongside improvements in waste and recycling logistics. One section that’s garnered a lot of attention from companies and sites like; the people most interested in junk and junk hauling, is chemical recycling. Notably, the recent Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show had a chemical recycling workshop, which ended up selling out, which says a lot about how interested people are.

But a lot of chemical recycling companies admit that there are problems that the industry needs to deal with. Notably, the issues that are affecting the industry are the same as the ones plaguing the mechanical recycling industry: ensuring they have the right feedstocks, having sustainable partnerships, as well as properly connecting with customers.

The session was presented by the American Chemistry Council, alongside the Association of Plastic Recyclers and Closed Loop Partners.

Connecting with customers

Helmut Brenner, Shell Chemicals’ North America Sustainability Manager, stated that properly informing customers of the content in recycled products isn’t as straightforward as it seems.  He noted that scrap and virgin feedstocks tend to mixed together in production units, which is why calculating and displaying recycled-content can be a bit of an issue.

Certifications with recycled content requires traceability, which means that the entire supply and value chain needs to be properly coordinated, and accounted for.

Brenner states that the main issue is making people understand the idea; getting them to grasp where the chemicals and molecules come from, where the products or materials they use actually originate.

Filling feed stocks

Eastman Chemical Strategic Initiatives Manager for Global Sustainability stated that the issue with collection is that it’s somewhat paradoxical; the economics behind it all is, by their admission, confusing. They admitted that it’ll require the industry at large, including companies and sites like, to cooperate in order to come up with something that really works and lasts for a long time.


Other speakers emphasized how important it was for the chemical recycling market to form proper partnerships. One of them was Brightmark Energy CEO Bob Powell, who stated that repeat partnerships are what they’re looking for.

They note that partners that can grow alongside one another, with aligned values and goals, as well as economically viable terms are more important than ever. Speakers pointed to the collaboration in Europe that lead to food packaging that uses recycled content, a development born from the partnership of Renewi, Plastic Energy, SABIC, and Unilever, as a good example of what the chemical recycling industry needs.