Consumer Goods Companies Announce Position on Chemical Recycling Technologies and Release Life Cycle Assessment

  • For the first time, consumer goods companies are joining forces through the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to set the agenda for the development of new plastic recycling technologies.
  • The CGF Plastic Waste Action Coalition today released an independent scientific study that demonstrates that chemically recycling hard-to-recycle plastic waste could reduce the climate impact of plastic compared to incinerating waste into energy. .
  • 16 member companies have also co-authored a document that describes a set of principles for a credible, safe and environmentally friendly development of the chemical recycling industry.

PARIS, April 13, 2022 /CNW/ — As part of its mission to address the challenge of plastic pollution and help advance a world where no plastic ends up in nature, the Consumer Goods Plastic Waste Action Coalition Forum (CGF) (the Coalition) is pleased to announce the release of a vision and principles document, entitled “Chemical Recycling in a Circular Economy for Plastics” which encourages the development of new plastics recycling technologies that meet to six key principles for credible, safe and environmentally friendly development. In support of this position, the Coalition has also published a new independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, which demonstrates that chemical recycling of hard-to-recycle plastic waste could reduce the climate impact of plastic. compared to waste – energy incineration.

Guided by the global commitment led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and in line with the recently announced UN Plastic Pollution Treaty, the Coalition is committed to taking the lead towards achieving a circular economy. To that end, in 2021, the Coalition launched its comprehensive set of Golden Design Rules, for the design of plastic packaging. At the same time, members developed a framework for optimal Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, as part of their commitment in advanced and transitioning markets to increase recycling rates for packaging that cannot be reused. The Coalition is also working to encourage innovation in recycling to close the loop, including chemical recycling to supplement growing mechanical capacity.

To help achieve this end goal, the Coalition has aligned itself with a common vision and set of principles for the safe scale-up of pyrolysis-based chemical recycling, which the Coalition believes provides guidance for the positive development of technology. The document indicates that chemical recycling could increase packaging recycling rates, which could help meet recyclability targets, more specifically for plastics that are difficult to recycle, for example post-consumer flexible films. To ensure that chemical recycling is developed and operated under credible, credible, safe and environmentally friendly conditions and to help encourage it, the document sets out six key principles which relate to: complementarity with mechanical recycling, traceability materials, process yields and environmental impact, health and safety and complaints.

Members of the CGF Plastic Waste Coalition hope to play a role in advocating for a credible and safe chemical recycling system. CGF members would appreciate feedback and engagement on this study and its broader work within the Plastic Waste Coalition of Action.

Barry ParkinChief Sustainability Officer, Mars, Incorporated, said: “Chemical recycling is an essential complement to mechanical recycling as it will enable large quantities of flexible packaging to be recycled into food grade packaging. This study demonstrates that chemical recycling has a significantly lower carbon footprint than the current end of life of flexible packaging.

Colin Kerr, packaging director at Unilever, said: “As we continue to reduce the use of virgin plastic, new technologies such as chemical recycling can help increase recycling rates and increase the availability of food-grade recycled materials. of the Consumer Goods Forum’s life cycle are key to ensuring this can happen in a safe and environmentally friendly way.”

Llorenc Milà i Canals, PhD, Head of the Life Cycle Initiative Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme, said: “It is crucial to consider all potential environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of production and consumption systems when evaluating technologies such as chemical recycling of plastics. A specific challenge with relatively new technologies is to include the chemical composition of discharges, emissions and wastes from facilities, as well as the need for additional pollution control equipment and management, and these should be part of the assessment. life cycle is the standardized tool to do just that, ensuring the necessary review by experts and interested parties; the Consumer Goods Forum has launched a very useful process to shed light on many of these aspects in this report”

Sander Defruyt, Manager, New Plastics Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said “Recognizing that reducing and reusing packaging must be a priority, and acknowledging the limitations of the technology, the paper highlights the industries position on the role that CR pyrolysis could play in the transition to a circular economy for plastics and what key principles and boundary conditions it must comply with.”

As part of the Coalition’s work, an independent study specifically on the theme of the impact of climate change has been commissioned. The study was carried out by environmental consultancy firm Sphera and peer-reviewed throughout the process by a panel of experts from the United Nations Environment Programme, Northwestern University (UNITED STATES), and Eunomia. The study provides a life cycle impact assessment and compares conventional plastics produced from fossils and incinerated at end of life, with chemically recycled plastic in a circular system.

Its findings demonstrate that chemical recycling of hard-to-recycle plastic waste could reduce the climate impact of plastic compared to incinerating waste into energy. Specifically, the lifecycle GHG emissions of flexible consumer packaging made from plastic waste by chemical recycling through pyrolysis and recycled at end of life are 43% lower than those of plastic films made from fossil fuels and disposed of by incineration at end of life.

Further details of the LCA findings can be found in the Technical Report and Non-Technical Summary.


Ignacio Gavilan
Director, Environmental Sustainability

Louise Chester
Communications Officer

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SOURCE The Consumer Goods Forum

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