Questions and Answers: Chemical Recycling

Industry is now pushing for a new technological fix for plastic waste, called “chemical recycling.” New proposals are popping up in Australia, the EU, Indonesia, Malaysia,Thailand, and the U.S., increasingly supported by favorable legislation. While plastics-to-plastics (P2P) and plastics-to-fuel (PTF) facilities are in principle different, industry increasingly touts certain facilities as “chemical recycling,” when in fact, these companies turn plastic back into a fossil fuel, which is later burned.

This document makes the necessary distinctions between plastic-to-plastic repolymerisation and plastic-to-fuel. It debunks the industry’s greenwashing efforts to disguise PTF as “chemical recycling,” and calls into question the actual potential of P2P technology. The bottom line is this: neither of these techno-fixes are the right answer. The only real solution is to stop making so much plastic.