Chemical Recycling

The Chemical Recycling hype should not divert attention from the real solution to plastic pollution which is replacing single-use plastics, detoxifying and simplifying new plastics, and designing business models to make efficient use of plastics – Joan Marc Simon,  Executive Director,  Zero Waste Europe


Industry have started to propose chemical recycling as the latest solution to waste management – a process that turns degraded plastics back into high quality plastics. 


However, as detailed in our Chemical Recycling report, the realities are much less optimistic. Our report warns against placing too much faith in chemical recycling noting that the technology is still young, under-analysed and requires much further understanding of associated environmental impacts. 


Zero Waste Europe is engaging with many stakeholders to better understand the impacts of this new industrial “fix”, and warning against unnecessary distraction from a circular economy and zero waste approach to waste management. 

Want to know more about our work on Chemical Recycling?

Here are a few related posts...

Library for Chemical Recycling

Library for Chemical Recycling

Joint Letter to the European Commission: Avoid the ‘mass balance approach’ to block ambitions for increased recycled content in plastics

 The undersigned organisations representing European NGOs and recycling industries are writing today to urge the European Commission to establish a transparent and ambitious ‘chain of custody’ method for determining recycled content in plastic products.


Available in English

Determining recycled content with the ‘mass balance approach’ – 10 recommendations for development of methods and standards

If the label on the bottle in your hand said it was made from recycled plastic, would you believe it? Depending on the method behind the claim, the bottle might contain little to no recycled content at all.
This position paper highlights recommendations to ensure that the methodologies for determining recycled content are developed in a manner which contributes to a circular economy.


Available in English

Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Chemical Recycling – Ten concerns with existing life cycle assessments

This joint paper presents key findings from a review of some of the most commonly cited chemical recycling and recovery LCAs, which reveal major flaws and weaknesses regarding scientific rigour, data quality, calculation methods, and interpretations of the results.

Available in English

Clarification on the definition and position of chemical recycling in the waste hierarchy

Together with other 44 European NGOs we wrote a letter to the European Directorate-General for the Environment to request a clarification on the role of different technologies marketed as ‘chemical recycling’ in the EU waste hierarchy.

Available in English

7 Steps to Effectively Legislate Chemical Recycling

Our latest joint statement with the Rethink Plastic alliance, and notably ECOS, EEB and HCWH outlines key steps for effective legislation of chemical recycling in the EU.


Available in English

Chemical Recycling Technical Assessment

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, GAIA, has released a new technical assessment revealing that chemical recycling is polluting, energy intensive, and has a track record of technical failures.


Available in English & Czech (translation by Arnika Association)

El Dorado of Chemical Recycling, State of play and policy challenges

Zero Waste Europe releases a study on Chemical Recycling looking into the the state of implementation of the technologies in the European context and giving policy recommendations to ensure Chemical Recycling complements, rather than jeopardises, a real Circular Economy.


Available in English