Are Chemical Recycling Claims Sometimes Misleading? Yes and No . . . But Mostly, Yes

On Sunday, March 22, John Oliver did an in-depth piece on HBO’s Last Week Tonight devoted to waste plastics recycling. He highlighted correctly the challenges of handling plastics labeled with resin identification codes 1 to 7, which is complicated for consumers. However, his point — illustrated by “chasing arrows” — that no scaled solution exists for most plastics is inaccurate. Molecular recycling can tackle plastics 2, 4, 5, and 6, but claims by some chemical recyclers are complicating this further.

When explaining the molecular recycling process at Nexus, with a focus on 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE), 5 (PP), and 6 (PS) waste plastics, we’re often asked: “Well, so-and-so company announced that it takes plastics 1 through 7 or 3 through 7. Is your technology inferior, narrower, not as flexible…?”


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