Chemical recycling of plastic waste
Plastics do have proven benefits during their use phase – for example preservation of food loss, lightweight construction of vehicles and building insulation. Plastic waste, however, and in particular plastic waste in the context of marine littering, is perceived as a major global challenge. There is also increasing regulatory pressure regarding recycling quota and recyclability on the one hand and strong commitments of our customers towards increasing the share of recycled material in their offerings on the other hand. Solving these challenges requires innovation and joint efforts globally across the value chain. We will contribute to tackling this.
Since mechanical recycling is limited because of an increase of residues in the material in each cycle, a team across BASF has taken up this challenge and developed the ChemCycling project. With chemical recycling, fossil resources for chemical production can be replaced with recycled material from plastic waste. How does it work? Plastic waste will be transformed into a raw material using thermochemical processes. The raw material can be fed into the Verbund to create new chemical products with excellent product performance based on recycled plastic waste.
We help the market to make materials recyclable which could not be recycled so far – for example, multi-layer or plastics with residues. This contributes to achieving recycling targets efficiently. Chemical recycling can help reduce the proportion of plastic waste which ends up in landfill or incineration. However, thermochemical recycling needs acceptance as recycling from market and regulators. There are many open questions with regards to technology, economy and regulation. We closely engage with the relevant stakeholders to tackle these challenges.
With eco-efficiency analysis we ensure that the innovative approach creates value for the environment. Moreover, chemical recycling represents an exciting business opportunity for us and our customers, as the resulting products are of equal quality to the products derived from fossil feedstock. We are currently working with customers to produce the first prototypes for customer products with chemically recycled material.