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Recycling. Towards a circular economy – part 1

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GERT-JAN GRUTER
CTO at Avantium and Professor of Industrial Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam

In the previous issue of Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY I discussed the option to use CO2 as a feedstock (CCU or Carbon Capture and Use). Predictions say that in the next decades, up to 20 % of CO2 emissions can be utilized in electrochemical reduction processes to produce chemicals or fuels, such as formate, carbon monoxide, methanol, and others when the energy efficiency (selectivity) is optimized.

In this issue of Chimica Oggi / Chemistry Today I will talk about the third and last carbon source (besides biomass and CO2) that can be used as alternative for fossil resources. This 3rd source is the recycling of waste materials. In order to meet the Paris agreement targets for CO2 reduction, recycling of all materials, including plastics, which has developed over the last 15 years, must be maximized. If we don’t, plastics will account for 15% of the total carbon budget in 2050 according to the Ellen McArthur foundation. The other main reason for recycling is becoming more and more obvious. We need to help conserve valuable resources, such as all metals, carbon, plastic materials and energy in order to be sustainable. The overa ...