Recycling company and waste processor Indaver has started construction of a new installation for the chemical recycling of post-consumer and post-industrial polystyrene and polyolefin packaging. The Plastics2Chemicals facility in the port of Antwerp will recycle around 65,000 tonnes of end-of-life plastics per year, making it the first and largest fully industrial European-scale plant. The start-up is scheduled for early 2024 with an initial capacity of 26,000 tonnes, which is to be scaled up in 2027. Fifty new long-term jobs are being created.
In its new installation, Indaver will process plastic flows that are more difficult to recycle using mechanical processes or for which the recycling market is less widely developed. This mainly involves polystyrene or polyolefin packaging. The materials for the new installation will come from both Belgium and abroad.
The recycling process consists of a thermochemical process which involves shortening or depolymerising longer carbon chains in the plastic. The materials that are obtained as a result of this process are basic raw materials with specifications equivalent to new materials extracted from fossil flows. The quality requirements even meet the standards of the foodstuffs industry. Plastics2Chemicals therefore closes the material loop and may be considered a textbook example of the circular economy.
In line with EU objectives, 50% of plastic packaging waste must be recycled by 2025. The target by 2030 is 55%. Although Belgium has already exceeded this goal with a recycling percentage of 52% for plastic household packaging material in 2021, major steps still have to be taken to close the gap. Supplementing existing mechanical recycling techniques with new technology such as chemical recycling offers opportunities in this respect. Chemical recycling makes it possible to recover valuable basic chemicals from end-of-life plastics and reuse them in virtually all plastic applications, including new packaging.
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