Technological and regulatory challenges
Both the market and society expect industry to come up with constructive solutions to deal with plastic waste. Chemical recycling is an innovative complement to other recycling and waste management processes. "We need a wide range of recovery options for plastic waste, since not every solution is suitable for each type of waste or possible for each product application. The first choice should always be the solution that performs best in a life cycle assessment," explained Andreas Kicherer, sustainability expert at BASF.
However, technological and regulatory conditions must be met before the project is market-ready. For one thing, the existing technologies to transform plastic waste into recycled raw materials such as pyrolysis oil or syngas must be further developed and adapted so that consistently high quality is assured. Furthermore, regional regulatory frameworks will considerably influence to what extent this approach can be established in each market. For example, it is essential that chemical recycling and the mass balance approach are recognized as contributing to the fulfillment of product and application-specific recycling targets.
Responsible handling of plastic waste is crucial
Plastics offer many benefits in technical applications, medicine and everyday life and they are often a better alternative to other materials. The challenge lies in responsibly managing post-consumer plastics. Functioning waste management systems and responsible consumer behavior with regard to plastics are crucial to solving problems such as pollution from plastic litter. To this end, BASF is involved in various projects at the association level and internationally. For example, the company is member of the World Plastics Council and participates in two programs of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Furthermore, BASF has implemented Operation Clean Sweep, an international initiative of the plastics industry to prevent the loss of plastic pellets, flakes and powder in the environment. BASF’s new ChemCycling project is another milestone in the responsible use of resources and an example of how BASF is specifically addressing global challenges while also helping its customers to reach their goals.