The Smoking Gun of Chemical Recycling


Study exposes ChemCycling fairy tales of the plastic lobby

Mainz (ots) Recycling plastic on a large scale with little effort with maximum output at the highest level – this is the impression many big players in the industry create when they talk about so-called “chemical recycling”. The process is presented as the most modern and most effective means to reduce the negative impact of plastic on the environment and climate. However, there is hardly any valid data on the chemical processing of plastic, which is mainly due to the fact that this process has not yet been scaled to a commercial level despite fifty years of research. Nevertheless, there are some life cycle assessments that are intended to underline the sustainability concept of “ChemCycling”.

The Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), together with the Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) and the European organizations Zero Waste Europe, GAIA, ECOS, Reth! Nk Plastic and the European Environmental Bureau, examined the latest life cycle assessments on so-called chemical recycling – and fell a crushing verdict:

“Through our investigation, we were able to expose the life cycle assessments of BASF and Co. as not very credible and tendentious. In our summary of the results we bring to light weaknesses, errors and also dubious statements”, says Thomas Fischer, head of the circular economy at DUH.

And Sascha Roth, environmental policy advisor at NABU, adds: “The more closely we look at chemical recyclers, the greater our skepticism. Our studies show that not all that glitters in life cycle assessments is gold. We have to focus more on it already concentrate on effective methods such as mechanical recycling and not on complex, uncertain tehnologies that ultimately turn out to be smoke candles .. “

One-sided, incomplete or simply wrong

The study lists the ten biggest criticisms of the life cycle assessments for so-called chemical recycling. For example, it gives the impression that the chemical processing requires little or no external energy, although this process is associated with a very high energy expenditure. It is also claimed that the output of so-called chemical recycling is of the same quality as new plastic. In fact, on the contrary, due to the poor quality of the output, only a small part can be used for end products. The high material loss in the chemical processing process is not mentioned at all in the life cycle assessments, and the toxicity values ​​are not examined in more detail. In general, the majority of data sets are not disclosed, only selective results are presented and the analyzes are incomplete. In addition, mechanical recycling is presented negatively on one side and only very one-sided assumptions are made in relation to alternative ways of handling plastic waste.

Reinhard Schneider, owner of the detergent company Werner & Mertz and winner of the German Environment Prize 2019, is shocked by the brazen methods of the plastic lobby: “It is bitter to see the means by which parts of the industry are trying to prevent or delay a real circular economy by using ineffective technologies nicely. “

Summary and recommendations

The authors of the study come to the conclusion that these life cycle assessments can easily be misinterpreted, thus creating a beautiful picture of chemical recycling. In particular, the inadequate disclosure of the data base for the preparation of the life cycle assessments is criticized, as it makes an independent review impossible. Politicians should therefore view these life cycle assessments with caution and not use them as a basis for decision-making. Instead, DUH, NABU and Co. recommend that the EU support more independent research on the environmental effects of chemical recycling and ultimately only incentivize recycling processes that actually have a lower carbon footprint than the production of new plastic.

The full study is available at this link:

Werner & Mertz: Werner & Mertz GmbH has been represented in Mainz for over 150 years and is well established as an innovative company on the European market with its trusted brands Frosch, Erdal and green care Professional. Werner & Mertz works according to the principles of an environmentally friendly and sustainable economy and regards sustainability as a lived company tradition. With the Frosch initiative and targeted project partnerships, Werner & Mertz paves the way for future-oriented, sustainable solutions and provides new impulses beyond its own industry.

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Press contact: Birgitta Schenz
+49 6131 964 2028

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