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Chemical Recycling Tool

Helping the Netherlands towards becoming fully circular by 2050

As part of a larger project commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Ecomatters developed a chemical recycling assessment tool. This tool evaluates the business prospects of starting initiatives in chemical recycling of plastic packaging waste, mostly coming from post-consumer and service industry waste. For this project, Ecomatters collaborated with EIT Climate-KIC. The Ministry aims to identify and nurture promising Dutch chemical recycling start-ups because they can help the Netherlands towards their goal of becoming fully circular by 2050. The tool created by Ecomatters supports these start-ups, as well as grant funding bodies and investors to assess the potential of the start-ups, which should contribute to delivering the target of becoming fully circular.

Year: 2019
Client: Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
Partner: EIT Climate-KIC

What did Ecomatters do?

Before Ecomatters started developing the assessment tool, we researched the current status quo by conducting a literature review of the available research in the field of chemical recycling. To validate the outcomes of the literature study and to add to them, Ecomatters also carried out ten interviews with experts from different fields relevant for chemical recycling. Examples of these fields are academia, chemical process industry and waste-processing industry representation, standardization bodies, start-ups and research institutes.

Based on these interviews and the insights from the literature study, the assessment tool was developed. The tool consists of both a questionnaire sheet and a score sheet. The following four assessment categories were used:

  • Feedstock; type of feedstock needed, assurance of feedstock provision, risk of feedstock competition, etc.
  • Process and logistics; type of chemical recycling process, scale of development, logistics in place, stakeholder engagement, regulatory permits in place etc.
  • Product output; type of product output, quality of product, take-off agreement in place, etc.
  • Environmental scan; questions regarding the environmental performance of the initiative, such as process direct emissions, energy use, avoided emissions, etc.

It was also decided that the tool needs to represent a differentiation in business maturity, since a chemical recycling initiative can be anything between a laboratory experiment and a full-fledged pre-industrial pilot. Besides this, the risks of any given initiative should also be made clear to third parties, such as grant funding bodies and investors, using the tool. The tool thus was made in such a way that it encompasses both the maturity level of the chemical recycling initiative and the risks underpinning their business prospects for these four pillars.

The finalised tool was tested at a Climate-KIC workshop for chemical recycling start-ups as well as sent to the interviewed experts for a review, and some final tweaks were made based on the feedback that was received by these parties.

Results

The tool has been received well by the ministry and will help gather comparable insights on the feasibility and potential environmental benefit of upcoming chemical recycling initiatives. It also supports grant funding bodies, investors and start-up founders in assessing the maturity and risks inherent to these types of recycling initiatives.

We are currently still in talks with the ministry about potential follow-up plans and will update this page when we have more certainty.

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