Veolia executive questions the environmental benefit of chemical recycling

Group will focus on processing and supplying input material

Environmental services group Veolia takes a very critical view of chemical recycling of plastic waste and has no plans to pursue pyrolysis technology. Speaking at a waste and resources conference in Kassel, Germany, Veolia’s Markus Binding said the group would concentrate on processing and supplying input material but would leave the actual pyrolysis process to others. Mr Binding is managing director of EVA Verwaltungs GmbH, a joint venture between Veolia and the energy group Leag. The JV plans to build a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) power plant with an incineration capacity of 480,000 tonnes a year at a former coal-fired power plant in Jänschwalde, Brandenburg, starting in 2025.

In response to the climate change and plastic waste debates, many players in the chemical and petrochemical industries are planning chemical recycling facilities for plastic waste around the globe, often using pyrolysis processes. Barely a week goes by without the announcement of a new project, a new cooperation or a new memorandum of understanding. Waste management firms expect the chemical industry could have demand for 1-2 million tonnes of pyrolysis oil within a few years – at least if the projects announced thus far are realised.

In Germany, major market players such as Remondis and EEW are leaving open the possibility of entering the chemical recycling business. But Veolia, the top player globally, does not want to pursue pyrolysis, and Mr Binding explained why in Kassel....

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