Research firm lists plastic recycling as growth sector

Lux Research places the sector alongside autonomous vehicles as a “technology to watch” in 2021.

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December 8, 2020

Boston-based Lux Research has listed plastic recycling as one of the three top “emerging technologies to watch in 2021,” in its annual list of what it predicts will be “transformational technologies.”

The research and analysis firm says its “Foresight 2021” report ranks technologies and trends “that will change the world over the next decade.”

Along with autonomous vehicles and natural language processing, Lux lists plastic recycling as one of its top three such technologies, writing, “Concern about plastic waste is nothing new, but major consumer product companies have made commitments to increasing recycling rates and innovations that can convert [scrap] into higher value products. Over the past decade alone, 155 startups addressing plastic [recycling] have been founded.”

An executive summary posted to the Lux Research website includes a comment from Lux’s Charles Willard noting that securing supplies of plastic scrap will be key to many recycling efforts. Writes Willard, “Engage with waste collection to secure inputs for recycling facilities – find opportunities to take advantage of plastic [scrap] as a distributed feedstock source and to play in new stages of the value chain.”

The summary also posits that while not all nations or regions have fossil fuels as a resource, all have plastic scrap to use as a resource. Lux Research also points to involvement in extended producer responsibility systems as creating new opportunities for some firms, as could responding to design for recycling efforts.