A pair of large consumer brand companies see chemical recycling as an important component in eventually meeting their sustainability goals.
Both PepsiCo Inc. and Unilever plc, which feature some of the world's most well-known brands and use plenty of plastic packaging, view chemical recycling as an emerging approach that still needs plenty of support to ultimately succeed.
But the companies also believe chemical recycling, sometimes called advanced recycling, as an important complement to mechanical recycling that currently dominates the plastic recycling industry.
Clarence Sequeira is senior manager sustainable materials and technology for PepsiCo global research and development.
"It should be said that mechanical recycled PET is, of course, certainly preferable. But why is that? It has 60 percent less GHG compared to virgin PET," he said during a presentation at the recent Plastic Packaging Summit organized by the Plastics Industry Association trade group.
"But there is a problem. And the problem is that, for one, mechanical recycling can only accept feedstocks that are clean and essentially clear PET. This material is in high demand from all of the brand owner commitments," Sequeira said during a virtual presentation.
"These are very aggressive goals and in order to accomplish that the only way possible would be to use a complimentary approach of both mechanical and chemical recycling," he said.