Global cooperation necessary for transitioning to circular plastic economy

Extensive dependency on a non-biodegradable material has led to steady accumulation of plastic waste over the last several decades. This necessitates formulation of a sustainable and environment-friendly approach to develop a circular plastic economy for production and disposal of this ubiquitous material, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Circular Plastic Economy’, discusses the need to collectively address the plastic pollution and highlights the steps taken by various stakeholders in the circular plastic economy theme.

The switch towards a circular plastic economy would prompt changes across various stakeholders. Plastic producers and plastic user companies are often from different business disciplines. Demand for petrochemical derivatives from the plastic industry may witness a slowdown in the long term. Plastic user companies may pass on higher packaging costs to the consumers.

Ravindra Puranik, Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “To achieve a successful circular plastic economy in the long run, various stakeholders need to collaborate across various value chains. European countries have set ambitious recycling targets to regulate various grades of plastic. This includes implementing a complete ban on single use plastic by 2021. The region also aims to increase the collection and recycling rate for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and other plastic materials.

“A number of oil and gas companies have shifted their focus towards developing alternative feedstock for petrochemical plants. There is also growing investment in startups developing plastics recycling technologies. Carbios and PureCycle Technologies are among the prominent startups in this domain.”

GlobalData’s thematic research identifies Eni, ExxonMobil, Reliance Industries Limited, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, and Total SA, among the leaders in the circular plastic economy theme from the oil and gas industry. It also highlights some of the leading plastic recycling technology companies, namely Carbios, Loop Industries, PureCycle Technologies, and TerraCycle.

Many of the practices involved towards developing circular plastics economy such as chemical recycling, are in the infancy stages. Producing recycled plastic is generally costlier than producing virgin plastic. These technologies require sustained investments to scale up to be significantly useful for developing the circular plastic economy.

Puranik concludes: “To achieve a truly circular plastic economy, the linear economy model needs to undergo massive transformation in terms of how the current value chains of various plastic products are structured.”

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