ACC report: advanced plastic recycling technology could have huge economic impact

- Mar 25, 2019-

Recently, chemical recycling, or "upgrading cycle", has attracted a lot of attention.Loop Industries, a patented technology for separating polymers from fossil fuels by depolymerizing waste plastics into basic building blocks, has been reported in the press.The monomers are then filtered, purified and repolymerized to produce high-quality polyester plastics suitable for food-grade packaging.

Researchers at the U.S. department of energy's national renewable energy laboratory (NREL) also announced an innovative way to replace plastic this year, the Volcat process, which converts waste products into new high-value materials with higher quality and environmental value.

Sounds good, but what is the economic value of these new processes?If widely adopted, advanced plastics recycling and recycling processes could create nearly 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the United States, with annual wages reaching $2.2 billion and direct and indirect economic output reaching $9.9 billion, according to a recent report by the American chemical council.

"Advanced plastics recycling technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we make, use and reuse plastic resources," said Steve Russell, vice President of plastics at ACC. "these technologies further demonstrate the untapped value of used plastics and have the potential to dramatically accelerate our transition to a circular economy."

"Expanding advanced plastics recycling and recycling facilities could create thousands of jobs in the United States, generate billions of dollars in economic output, and save up to 6.5 million tons of consumer plastics a year from being buried in landfills," comments PriyankaBakaya, founder and CEO of Renewlogy and President of the renewable-fuel and petrochemicals union.

Several major plastics manufacturers and energy companies * have recently announced investments and/or agreements with suppliers of advanced plastics recycling and recycling technology, which will help prove and expand the recycling process.

Last may, plastic manufacturers in the us, Canada and Europe pledged to recycle or recycle all plastic packaging in those regions by 2040.These technologies are expected to play a key role in achieving their objectives.

"Plastic packaging and consumer goods are lighter than other alternatives, helping to reduce transport fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste.Learn to use plastic as a resource, both economic and environmental benefits."Transforming these materials into valuable products and raw materials helps prevent plastic waste from entering the ecological environment and being utilized in production.Russell said.

The report, compiled by the ACC's department of economics and statistics, updates a similar analysis completed in 2014.Earlier analyses looked only at the economic potential of converting waste plastics into synthetic crude oil.Since then, these technologies have greatly expanded the scope of output to meet demand for specific commodities.

* the new report looks at a class of advanced plastics recycling and recycling technologies, commonly known as "chemical recycling," including pyrolysis and depolymerization.These advanced technologies complement traditional methods of recycling, namely mechanical recycling, which can help society recycle and reuse a wider range of post-consumer plastics.