Recently, the plastic waste joint action committee of the consumer goods Forum (CGF) published a vision and principles article entitled "chemical recycling in a circular economy for plastics", which encourages the development of new plastic recycling technologies that meet the six key principles of reliable, safe and environmental development. In support of the article's position, the joint action committee also published a new independent life cycle assessment (LCA) study, which showed that the use of chemical recycling technology to treat difficult to recycle plastic waste can reduce the impact of plastics on the climate compared with energy wasting incineration methods.
Under the guidance of the global commitment for a new plastic economy launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and in accordance with the newly released United Nations global plastic waste treaty, the joint action committee actively promotes the realization of circular economy. To this end, in 2021, the joint action committee published a set of "golden design principles" for plastic packaging design. At the same time, the committee members designed a framework for the market that took the lead in implementing the transition to develop an optimal extended producer responsibility (EPR) plan to improve the recovery rate of non reusable packaging. In addition, the joint action committee has worked to encourage closed-loop recycling innovation, including chemical recycling, to complement the growing physical recycling capacity.
To help achieve this ultimate goal, the joint action committee has set a common vision and a series of principles for the safe expansion of pyrolysis chemical recovery technology. The Committee believes that these visions and principles will provide guidance for the active development of relevant technologies. This article explains that chemical recycling technology can improve the recovery rate of packaging, so as to promote the realization of the goal of recyclability, especially for plastics that are difficult to recycle, such as post consumer soft film. To ensure and encourage the development and use of chemical recovery technologies under reliable, safe and environmentally friendly conditions, this article lists six key principles on complementarity with physical recovery capabilities, material traceability, process production and environmental impact, health and safety, and declarations.
Members of CGF plastic waste contact action committee hope to play their role and create a positive case for establishing a reliable and safe chemical recycling system. CGF members welcome feedback and participation in the study and the extensive work of the CGF Joint Action Committee on plastic waste.
Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer of Mars, said, "chemical recycling technology is a key supplement to physical recycling because it can turn a large number of flexible packaging into food grade packaging through recycling. This study shows that the carbon footprint of chemical recycling is significantly lower than that of the current flexible packaging treatment."
Colin Kerr, Unilever packaging director, said, "as we continue to reduce the use of new plastics, new technologies such as chemical recycling can improve the recovery rate and increase the supply of food grade recycled materials. These principles and the life cycle assessment of the consumer goods forum are the key to ensuring that such technologies are developed in a safe and environmentally friendly manner."
Dr. lloren ç mil à I canals, director of the Secretariat of the life cycle plan of the United Nations Environment Programme, "It is essential that all potential environmental impacts in the life cycle of production and consumption systems be taken into account when evaluating plastic chemical recycling technologies. The specific challenges faced by new technologies include the chemical composition of plant waste, emissions and waste, as well as additional pollution control requirements and management needs; these should be included in the assessment. Life cycle assessment is a standardized tool to complete these tasks and can ensure that Experts and stakeholders carry out convincing necessary reviews; The consumer goods forum has created a useful process to clarify these aspects mentioned in this report. "
Sander defrayt, head of new plastics economics at the Allen MacArthur Foundation, said, "this article recognizes the priority of reducing and reusing packaging and the limitations of this technology, and expounds the position of the industry on" the role that pyrolysis chemical recovery technology can play in the transition to plastic circular economy and the restrictions that this technology should follow ".
The joint action committee commissioned an independent study focusing on the theme of the impact of climate change. The study was conducted by sphera, an environmental expert consultant, and peer reviews were conducted by expert groups from the United Nations Environment Programme, Northwestern University and eunomia. The study provides a life cycle impact assessment comparing traditional plastics made from fossil fuels and treated by incineration with plastics treated by chemical recovery technology in the recycling system.
The research results show that compared with the incineration method of wasting energy, the use of chemical recycling technology to treat plastic waste that is difficult to recycle can reduce the impact of plastics on the climate. Specifically, the greenhouse gas emissions of post consumer flexible packaging made of plastic waste treated by pyrolysis chemical recovery technology and finally recycled are 43% lower than that of plastic film made of fossil fuels and treated by incineration.
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