ChemistryCAN connect the circle


Chemistry makes it possible to re-use our finite material and energy resources more efficiently

As we seek to make more efficient use and re-use of our finite material and energy resources, and make use of alternative sources of energy, we can find some answers in an economy based on circular principles. This could replace our traditional linear approach of ‘take, make, dispose’.

A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible, and to minimise the generation of waste. By considering all material flows as potential resources, we can achieve this circular future, while also creating opportunities for companies and economies along the value chain.

The chemical industry can contribute in two critical ways to a transition to a circular economy:

– enabling the circular economy in downstream industries;

– circulating molecules to close the loop.

The journey towards such an economy will mean developing new business models, products and solutions that look beyond the concept of using a product just once and that look for longer loops through, say, improved durability. In making this happen there is also the challenge of minimising the energy needs required and increasing the use of bio-based and alternative feedstock.

Moving towards a circular economy can bring society many benefits, but will require time, effort and investments. Above all, it will require close collaboration between all stakeholders in society –  business, civil society, academia, policy makers. No single party can accomplish this huge endeavour alone.

To understand the barriers to circularity, and what conditions are required for achieving it, Cefic spoke to Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment, Bjorn Hansen, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and other experts. Here is what they have said.


Case studies

Designing sustainable packaging by increasing the use of renewable raw material

Exploring ways to make plastic from renewable resources

Reducing dependence on crude oil is an integral part of the transition towards a bioeconomy….

Advanced chemical additives boost the quality of recycled paper

A new generation of biodegradable additives helps tackle paper waste

Even though digitalisation is increasing, the use of paper is still an important part of…

Recycling the unrecyclable

A new technology makes it possible to recycle complex multi-layer materials

The transition to a circular economy seeks to replace today’s linear “take-make-dispose” approach to resources….

Recycling food packaging into school desks

A new project improves child nutrition in South Africa and shows circular economy in action

Food packaging plays an important role in preventing food waste, keeping our food fresh longer…

New project will help deploy carbon recycling technologies across the EU

Accelerating carbon recycling in Europe

Extracting and recycling carbon from CO2 emissions holds a huge potential for the more sustainable…

Recycling more plastics

A magnetic fluid technology helps recycle coloured PET packaging

Most of the packaging for food and beverages we use every day is made from…

Turning foam waste into safe new raw materials

New demonstration plant is to safely recycle 3,3 million kilograms of the foam waste per year

One of the challenges of creating a circular economy is to be able to recycle…

Replacing fossil fuels with bio-based feedstock

SABIC converts waste into renewable feedstock to make plastic

Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) are the most widely produced types of plastic, which can…

Converting textile waste into valuable feedstock

Discarded textile is turned into a raw material for the chemical industry

The EU textile industry generates waste estimated at 16 million tons per year. Up to…

Designing products that never go to waste

A joint venture launches a fully recyclable alternative to carpets

The chemical industry is constantly developing solutions to re-enter end-of-life products back into the cycle…

Converting climate damaging emissions into raw material

The use of carbon dioxide will reduce the industry’s reliance on non-renewable resources to manufacture plastics

The chemical industry has long been exploring various ways of turning the carbon dioxide gas…

Deriving key chemical from biomass

Thanks to a new technology aniline can be made from biomass instead of fossil feedstock

Aniline is a key chemical, which is used as a starting material for numerous products,…

Converting wheat straw to fuel

New technology enables large scale biofuel production from agricultural residues

Chemistry is instrumental in advancing bio-economy and producing innovative bio-based materials such as biofuels that…

Giving household waste a second life

New plant will turn garbage into a raw material to make chemicals

The Waste2Chemistry initiative, a consortium set up under the leadership of AkzoNobel, aims to use…

Creating “green” composites

Innovative resins improve the recyclability of composites

Composites are two or more materials with different physical or chemical properties combined in a…

Reducing dependence on natural resources

BASF turns organic waste into feedstock to replace fossil fuels in its manufacturing process

Using waste to generate feedstock for the production of chemicals is an effective technology, which…