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Lux Research issues plastic recycling regulations report

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Lux Research issues plastic recycling regulations report

Regulatory opposition to chemical recycling methods for discarded plastic may be easing, even in the European Union, according to Boston-based Lux Research.

Source: RecyclingToday

A 13-page e-book issued by Lux, which is based on a webinar it held earlier this year, finds that while government opposition to pyrolysis may have peaked, investors should not count on the definition of recycling changing to include pyrolysis in many regions.

Among the other conclusions reached by Lux are that extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems are likely to proliferate globally.

Regarding pyrolysis technology (which is part of the wider chemical recycling landscape for recycled plastics), Lux says that while EU policy “has been hostile to pyrolysis,” in the next few years, Europe may become the most favorable region in the world for pyrolysis plant operators.

Although the report examines chemical recycling closely, Lux says mechanical recycling and reverse logistics will remain “key pillars” to circular economy plastics strategies, along with chemical recycling.

The e-book, authored by Anthony Schiavo, senior director and principal analyst with Lux, says energy consumption is “a major point of contention” for some opponents of the pyrolysis process, which its advocates claim is one of the only ways to divert mixed plastics from landfills.

In Europe, the opposition viewpoint has resulted in pyrolysis not currently considered a form of recycling in the EU and thus not counting toward plastic recycling rate targets and mandates. However, the EU’s emerging packaging recycling directive means the EU could eventually allow pyrolysis-derived products to help meet the EU’s recycled-content targets, Schiavo says.

In the United States, different mandates and laws have allowed chemical recycling, including pyrolysis, to gain varying levels of investment in different states.

This fragmented regulatory landscape underscores the challenges of the U.S. approach to recycling, where market forces largely determine the value of recycled products.

Anthony Schiavo, senior director and principal analyst with Lux

The report also looks at policy considerations in India, where the volume of discarded plastic could provide significant opportunities for both mechanical and chemical recycling plant operators.

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