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ISRI announces position on chemical recycling

The position addresses when ISRI considers such nonmechanical processes to be recycling and when they are not.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, board of directors announced its position on chemical recycling during a board meeting in July. The company issued a statement outlining its policy on the subject July 14.  

“ISRI supports private and public efforts aimed at developing new recycling processes and technologies and encouraging manufacturers to adopt Design for Recycling principles in their operations,” ISRI said in a statement. “As new recycling processes and technologies emerge to help address the increasing variety of plastics and plastics products in commerce, it is important to properly identify these processes and technologies and define them appropriately.”  

Plastics recycling is a series of activities that processes end-of-life plastic materials into marketable commodities that are subsequently consumed instead of virgin materials as feedstock in manufacturing material products and not in the production of energy or fuels.   

ISRI says significant investments are currently being made in researching nonmechanical processes to convert end-of-life plastics back into recycled resin, resin precursors and petrochemical intermediates and fuels. This position addresses when ISRI considers such nonmechanical processes to be recycling and when they are not. The organization’s policy is as follows:  

  • nonmechanical processes that convert plastics at the end of life into recycled resins and monomers are recycling as they produce materials to be consumed instead of virgin materials as feedstock in the manufacture of material products and not in the production of energy or fuels;  

  • nonmechanical processes that convert plastics at the end of life into petrochemical products that are fuels or used to make fuels do not meet ISRI’s above definition of plastics recycling and cannot be considered recycling; 

  • ISRI does not support the label of “advanced recycling” for nonmechanical recycling, as doing so creates a totally inappropriate and untruthful distinction between mechanical and nonmechanical recycling processes;  

  • ISRI fully supports recognition of the distinction between recycling, inclusive of both mechanical and nonmechanical recycling and solid waste management; and,  

  • ISRI does not support any policy in which nonmechanical recycling is considered manufacturing and mechanical recycling are not.