Chemicals & plastics

To implement the circular economy principles in the chemical and plastics industry, the entire industry must rethink how it uses raw materials and manages them throughout the product life cycle.


Every year, close to 600 kilotons of plastic waste linked to consumption are collected in Belgium. As approximately 40% of this plastic waste is recycled, accelerating the circularityCircularity describes the quantity of materials managed in a closed loop. of plastic is urgent to ensure that it is used more optimally, without harming the environment.

The plastics industry represents approximately 6% of global fuel consumption, and this proportion is set to rise to 20% by 2050.The energy-intensive processes required at the stages of extraction, oil refining and plastic material production generate a colossal amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Given the effects of plastic waste on the climate and our ecosystems, it is crucial for the companies concerned to contribute to developing the circular economyThe circular economy is a restorative and regenerative economy. By maintaining the value of the products, materials and resources in the economy through smart product design, repurposing and/or shared use of products, it reduces the extraction of natural resources by using resources already present in the economy..

Challenges for the sector

The Belgian plastics industry is hard at work in the transition towards a circular economy. Although there is clear progress, a multitude of challenges remain. How can we maintain plastic materials in the economic cycle by maintaining their quality and value? Increasing the lifespan of the materials and reusing recycled raw materials are crucial.

Eco-design and cooperation

The transition towards a circular economy in the plastics industry requires:

  • investing more in smart eco-design,
  • increasing the selective collection of plastic waste,
  • investing in innovative sorting and recyclingAny recovery operation through which waste, including organic waste, is reprocessed to become substances, materials or products that can be used for their initial function or other functions. techniques (physical or chemical recycling),
  • and promoting cooperation between companies and sectors throughout the value chain.

Moreover, the industry can also promote the sharing economy to maximise the use of plastic products such as packaging and containers. This transition still needs a lot of innovation and investment, but in time it offers the prospect of closing the plastics loop.

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