In response to the European Commission'sPlastics Strategy, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) and partners have issued a new report: Plastics Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda in a Circular Economy. This report identifies the challenges to plastics circularity and defines the types of solutions needed to address them. Future research is required in three main areas: Circularity by design, recycling and alternative feedstock.
SusChem Chairman Dr. Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro, said:
“The Plastics industry is committed to increase the resource efficiency of its production processes and to face the challenge of closing the circularity loop. The new Research and Innovation Agenda gives fresh impetus on the strongest way to drive progress along plastics value chains by means of collaboration”.
The analysis from this report has helped to identify priorities, projects and the level of investment needed to achieve full circularity of plastics. SusChem and its partners – Cefic, PlasticsEurope, European Plastics Converters (EuPC) and the European Composites, Plastics and Polymer Processing Platform (ECP4) – will use this report as their main input to EU innovation policy on the circularity of plastics. We hope this document will inspire an increase in the number of collaborative projects as well as European and member states support for a full implementation of the solutions proposed.
This document was developed using input from experts involved in the plastics value chain; principally from the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem), the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), the European Composites, Plastics and Polymer Processing Platform (ECP4), the European Plastics Converters (EuPC), and PlasticsEurope.
The plastics sector in Europe
There are around 60 000 companies in the European plastic industry, most of them SMEs, employing over 1.5 million people and generating a turnover close to EUR 350 billion in 2016.
Thanks to their versatility and high resource efficiency, plastics have enabled innovation in many other sectors allowing the development of products and solutions in strategic areas (e.g., higher protection in packaging, insulation in building & construction, lightweight for transportation, societal wellbeing brought by renewable energy and medical devices) that could not exist today without these materials. A full plastics circularity has the potential to contribute to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, resource efficiency and job creation (European Circular Economy objectives).