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Key messages

  • BASF supports the use of recycled materials as part of our sustainability and circular economy goals.
  • To achieve such goals, industry needs flexibility which recycling technologies and inputs are used and how recycled material can be attributed to products.
  • The use of recycled material should be guided by scientific, life cycle, and sustainability assessments without compromising the required product’s functionalities. 

About the topic

Recycled content in plastic products can originate from various recycling processes and is used to substitute virgin feedstock. In 2018, 30 mt of recyclates were used globally in plastics production, i.e., ca. 8% of plastics were produced with recyclates (Global Plastic Flow 2018, conversio). This number might stay the same under business-as-usual scenario or increase to ca. 22% under system-change scenario (Breaking the Plastic Wave 2020, Pew). 

What we offer

To enable the use of recycled materials, BASF

  • has committed to convert about 250,000 tons of recycled feedstock into more than 160,000 tons recycled plastics (calculated by mass balance) annually by 2025; 
  • invests in various chemical recycling technologies such as pyrolysis (e.g., for tires, packaging) and depolymerization (e.g., for industrial scrap, mattresses) to convert plastic waste into recycled feedstock which is fed into the production network; 
  • develops innovative solutions to advance and enhance the quality and use of mechanically recycled content, e.g., through pretreatment/ washing and additive technologies; 
  • provides and further develops solutions that enable tracing (e.g., blockchain technology, physical and digital tracking) and improve sorting

What we ask for

  • To drive demand, BASF prefers incentivization of physical and allocated recycled content over mandates. Incentives can be provided by different economic instruments such as promotion via Public Procurement and/ or ecolabeling, reduced fees in well-designed Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, or tax exemptions. 
  • Legislation should enable companies to use the socially, environmentally, and economically best solution and ensure equal support, acceptance, and flexibility for all recycling pathways to increase the use of recycled content:
    -  Feedstock to originate both from pre- and post-consumer waste streams (as defined per ISO 14021 standard) produced either by mechanical or chemical recycling.
    -  Feedstock to originate from other value chains (e.g., open loop) but strictly adhering to the requirements for health, safety, quality, and performance.
    -  Content to be calculated by segregated/ dedicated and mass-balanced approaches based on credible third-party certification to ensure supply chain transparency.
  • Collaborative alignment within and between value chains is essential. 
  • Companies that place final products on the market are best positioned to steer the use of recycled content, because they design products, can use broader feedstock, and define costs. Mandating of recycled content for plastics or polymers cannot guarantee the subsequent (mis)use in the value chains nor force producers to buy it. 
  • Credit systems which reward low-value recycling should be discouraged in favor of promoting high-quality recycling and truly circular economy of plastics. 
  • In the regulated markets, equal opportunities for produced and imported goods should be ensured.
  • In the case that recycled content should be mandated by law, enough time for research and recycled content supply is needed to meet compliance deadlines, considering economic, environmental, and social feasibility. The requirements on recycled content can only be in place if there are no correspondent bans on virgin materials, to ensure both availability of feedstock to the recycling process to produce recycled content as well as to provide an outlet for recycled content into production.
  • Certified compostable products should be exempt from recycled content requirements, because they are designed to be recycled into compost, and as a result, there are no recycled feedstocks available. 

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