Chemical recycling clarified: how is plastic recycled?

Chemical recycling means chemically or thermochemically processing waste plastic into raw material for the chemical industry. Chemical recycling can complement mechanical recycling by utilizing waste plastic streams that currently have no or low value in recycling.

Development of chemical recycling is crucial for meeting the ambitious circular economy targets in Europe aiming at a 50% recycling rate of all plastic packaging by 2025 and 55% by 2030.

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Collecting and sorting
Neste aims to utilize post-consumer plastic waste, which currently cannot be recycled mechanically, e.g. multilayer, multimaterial, colored or film plastics. Today, they mainly end up in incineration or landfill.

Liquefaction icon Liquefaction
Waste plastic is liquefied in a thermochemical liquefaction process, which turns it into a material similar to crude oil.
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Refining and upgrading
Liquefied and pretreated waste plastic is used to partly replace crude oil as refinery raw material. Neste’s fossil oil refineries are versatile and produce a multitude of end products. These existing refinery processes can turn the liquefied waste plastic into raw material for new plastics and chemicals.

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End products
The plastics and chemicals based on chemical recycling are of high quality and can replace products based on virgin fossil resources in any application. Plastics based on chemical recycling can be used without limitations even in sensitive and demanding applications, such as in food contact, toys, as well as healthcare and automotive applications.