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Chemical Recycling of Waste in the Circular Economy

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has commissioned a study on chemical recycling of waste in the circular economy. The study is being undertaken by RPA Europe and Risk & Policy Analysts (RPA). The objective of the requested services is to provide a better understanding of what information is currently known regarding the chemical recycling of waste.

As well as extensive desk research, this study involves the collection of information from key stakeholders across the EU and beyond through interviews.

The output will directly contribute to ECHA's involvement in the New Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe (

If you would like to know more about this study, please do not hesitate to contact Dr David Carlander at David.carlander[at] 

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5. The key research questions of the study can be grouped in the following six topics. In order for us to tailor a follow up interview with you, please select all that applies. Information you have for a topic does not necessarily have to be comprehensive or detailed for each one of the research questions within the topic.
Space Cell I have information on this topic that I can share in an interviewNo information available
1. CHEMICAL RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES AND PROCESSES - Types, performances, advantages and disadvantages.

What are the kinds of chemical recycling technologies/processes that currently exist or are close to market introduction and for what substances/materials streams? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each technology? What positive impacts does chemical recycling of wastes have on the waste management and recycling system in general?
2. WASTE STREAMS - Past, present and future of waste streams sources, types and quantities undergoing chemical recycling.

What are the waste streams currently undergoing chemical recycling? How much waste is treated by the different technologies? How much waste could be easily diverted to new chemical recycling technologies? What indications are there concerning changes in consumption in relation to the availability of types of materials and impacts on potential flows for future chemical recycling? What new waste sources are considered as having high potential to be subject to chemical recycling?

What are the quantities and qualities of recovered substances/materials? What are the expected changes in the composition and nature of the recovered chemicals/materials? What are the quantities and qualities of waste residues, side streams and by-products from each technology? Are there issues concerning the safety of the recovered chemicals/materials? What are the differences in the resulting composition of the recovered chemicals/materials by different technologies? Is there a demand for the recovered substances/materials? Will there be a demand for recovered chemicals/materials from emerging technologies?
4. CHEMICAL RECYCLING AND SUBSTANCES OF VERY HIGH CONCERN - Sources, identities, treatment, fate and emissions.

What is currently known regarding the main sources contributing to SVHCs in waste streams for chemical recycling, in terms of substances, material uses and recycling processes? What is the adequacy of different chemical recycling technologies in handling substances of concern? What are the potential emissions of SVHCs from chemical recycling plants themselves? Are there any issues with substances used in those treatment technologies? What is the effectiveness of Best Available Technologies chemical recycling waste treatment technologies in eliminating SVHCs from recovered materials/substances?
5. CHEMICAL RECYCLING AND POLICY DEVELOPMENTS - UVBC substances classification and mixture rule, authorisation requirements for mixtures containing SVHC constituents.

How well does the process of chemical recycling fit into the concepts and obligations of the REACH registration process (including inquiry, data sharing, etc.)? Who should be the registrant? Can the process benefit from the recovery exemption under REACH and under what conditions? Does the concept of substance identification create any specific problems? How does the presence of SVHCs in input material waste streams hinder or bring detrimental impacts on chemical recycling of waste from technical and regulatory perspectives? For example, every catalyst has different poisons for its deactivation, and many of these catalyst poisons are neither SVHC nor SoC. What research has been done on catalysts and their important role in chemical recycling? What are the current policy developments relating to application of the mixture rule for classification of UVCB substances, and authorisation requirements for mixtures containing SVHC constituents?
6. CHEMICAL RECYCLING AND TRACKING SYSTEMS - Mandatory communication requirements, sector by sector or waste stream-by-waste stream approach, block-chain technologies.

Which technologies could be more horizontally applied to identify the presence of SVHC in multiple processes and waste streams? What ideas are being investigated in relation to the use of block-chain technologies in the chemicals industry to track what their mixtures/articles/products contain, before they come back into the chemical recycling loop? Would an effective well-functioning tracking system require a more international and/or sectoral approach (waste stream-by-waste stream)?
6. If you have papers, reports, guidelines or any other material relevant to the topics above that you would like to share with us, please upload them here.