CSIRO releases report examining use of chemical recycling to create new resources

Advanced recycling of plastic waste, also referred to as feedstock, molecular, or chemical recycling, converts plastic waste into its chemical building blocks and back into plastic, or other useful resources such as fuel.

Plastic recycling

Advanced recycling technologies could turn problematic plastic waste destined for landfill into valuable resources, according to a new report by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

The report, Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste, released this week, evaluates the ways to convert plastic waste that can’t be recycled with existing methods, into new resources to build Australia’s circular economy.

It is estimated that 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into the Australian marine environment each year. Less than 12 percent of plastic waste is recycled and about 85 percent ends up in landfill.

CSIRO researcher Ms Sarah King said with new waste plastic export rules in place, new technologies were critical to support the increased recovery and recycling of plastics.

Australia has set a national target of 70 percent of plastic packaging recycled or composted by 2025, and 80 percent average recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030.

Chemistry Australia's Director for Strategy, Energy and Research Peter Bury, who collaborated with CSIRO on the report, said advanced recycling is an important and complementary technology able to progress an Australian plastics circular economy.

"Mechanical recycling methods are our foundation technologies and very effective for a range of well-sorted plastics used for food and other packaging. Advanced recycling can sit alongside these to further strengthen Australia’s recycling capabilities for plastics that can’t be processed through existing channels," Mr Bury said.

The report was produced in consultation with Chemistry Australia, LyondellBasell and Qenos

Download the report here.

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