Recycling technologies can be classified
under two categories:

Physical Recycling

Technologies and processes whereby plastic waste materials are recycled back into plastics without altering the chemical structure of the materials.

Chemical Recycling

Technologies and processes whereby clean plastic streams undergo a chemical process which includes a purification step, to potentially obtain virgin-like polymers to be used in new plastic articles.

What do physical and chemical recycling have in common?

Both processes include pre-treatment steps like sorting, washing, and grinding to enable an efficient plastic recycling process and in order to fulfil the properties of the intended end-applications.

Chemical recycling has the potential to build upon mechanical recycling processes if it can treat the waste which cannot currently be mechanically recycled into high-quality plastics. Achieving a true complementarity of these technologies would enable further reduction in the dependency on virgin raw materials and their associated CO2 emissions.

Did you know that mechanical recycling covers over 99% of the total plastics recycling capacity in Europe?

Take a look at the following factsheets to learn more about the most common plastic waste streams in Europe and how they are recycled.