Overwhelming need to switch from linear to circular plastic economy

GlobalData Energy 26 August 2020 (Last Updated August 26th, 2020 09:22)

Overwhelming need to switch from linear to circular plastic economy

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, Circular Plastic Economy, highlights the need to transform existing plastic value chains to combat the problem of plastic pollution and the role of various stakeholders in enabling this transition.

Extensive dependency on plastic materials has led to a steady accumulation of plastic waste over the last several decades. This requires the formulation of a sustainable and environment-friendly approach to develop a circular plastic economy for production and disposal of this ubiquitous material.

Unlike biodegradable materials, plastic does not easily disintegrate and decompose. Hence, it is very difficult to manage plastic after it is discarded. Plastic is an essential material in the packaging of consumer and industrial products. The waste generated from the disposal of this packaging material is one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution.

The switch towards a circular economy would prompt changes across various stakeholders. Plastic producers and plastic user companies are often from different business disciplines. Demand for petrochemical derivatives from the plastic industry may witness a slowdown in the long term. Plastic user companies may pass on higher packaging costs to consumers.

Many of the practices involved in developing circular plastics economy such as chemical recycling are in the infancy stages. Producing recycled plastic is generally costlier than producing virgin plastic. These technologies require sustained investments to scale up to be significantly useful for developing the circular plastic economy.

Some of the leading oil and gas players in the circular plastic economy theme are Eni, ExxonMobil, Reliance Industries Limited, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, and Total SA. Some of the leading plastic recycling technology companies are Carbios, Loop Industries, PureCycle Technologies and TerraCycle.