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10 critical questions about chemical recycling

This week's wrap-up - 05/02/21

In this week's wrap-up …  10 critical questions about chemical recycling. Compostable plastics in the circular economy. Comprehensive roadmaps to sustainability. Winners in the Food and Drink Federation Awards. And more …


10 critical questions about chemical recycling

Chemical recycling has a vital role in the future waste management of plastics. Recycling Europe has posed and answered 10 questions on the topic. Excerpts include:

Q: What chemical recycling offers that mechanical recycling cannot?
A: Chemical recycling addresses plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled for technical or economic reasons.

Q: Why is chemical recycling (only now) a growing sector?
A: As mechanical recycling has its limitations, attention has been given to technologies that can provide a new and powerful solution.

Q: What plastics are being used in the chemical recycling processes?
A: Chemical recycling technology can treat specific feedstock and, therefore, offers a complementary model to support a circular economy for all plastics.

Q: Is chemical recycling a reality? Are the technologies already optimised?
A: Some chemical recycling plants are already up and running in Europe. The technologies are in constant evolution.

Q: Is the output of chemical recycling suitable for food-contact application?
A: Yes, it has the capacities and properties, but it doesn't yet have full policy recognition.


The added value of compostable plastics for the circular economy has been put under the European Bioplastics’ spotlight. Their conclusion includes:

  • It is important to acknowledge that compostable plastics are not a general solution, but a specific technology for specific products that can foremost help to manage bio-waste efficiently. 


Kraft Heinz has become the latest brand to join the CEFLEX team of stakeholders. The company has committed to 100% of their packaging to be globally recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.


On the US highway

The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) in the US has released a comprehensive report to guide its members with various roadmaps and proposals to help achieve the goals of a circular economy. Highlights include:

  • Challenges faced, such as the limited value of flexible packaging that is collected today due to a lack of end-market applications and demand.
  • Roadmaps to follow covering Design, Collection, Sortation, Reprocessing, and End Markets.
  • Need for continued focus on innovation and technology development, such as advanced recycling.
  • Lessons that can be learned from other countries, such as Canada, where the flexible packaging recycling rate is 20%.

On the road down under

Australia's national science agency (CSIRO) has developed a detailed circular economy roadmap for plastics, glass, paper, and tyres. Its pivotal points are: 

  • Pinpointing the current situation by determining key challenges and opportunities across sectors.   
  • Quantifying the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a shift to circularity. 
  • Identifying the strategies, enablers, and opportunities that will lead to the goals being achieved.  


We'd like to congratulate Moy Park's Culinary Team, one of the winners of the Hidden Heroes award at this week's prestigious Food and Drink Federation Awards.

Other winners included:

  • Innovation:  Meatless Farm - plant-based pea protein range.
  • Sustainable Packaging Initiative (joint winner): Coca-Cola - working towards a World Without Waste. Little Freddie organic baby & toddler food - Little Freddie's Zero Waste to Landfill Pouch Recycling Scheme in partnership with Enval Ltd.
  • Campaign of the Year: KP - KP "Check Your Nuts" Movember Campaign.

NB: The deadline for this year's entries is February 28, 2021.


March 14 – The Challenges of Incorporating Recycled Content in Plastics Packaging

  • This online seminar from the BPF will provide an in-depth look at market trends in recycled content, the Government's outlook for the future, the role of chemical recycling, and certifying recycled content. 

NB: You may also be interested in our previous insightful article: The challenges of PCR in lidding film for high temperatures

February 14 – Valentines' Day (in case you need reminding!)

From the KM team … stay safe, keep up the good work, and value plastic.

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Lifting the Lid on Plastic: Food for thought on tackling food waste

Try to imagine 200 million elephants. Or 900 million compact cars. That is the equivalent weight of food lost or wasted each year. 

The startling 1.3 billion tonnes of loss or waste is roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

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