Recycling Plastics in the Circular Economy - WorldOfChemicals

Circular Economy in the Chemical Industry

Circular Economy

There is a rise in the adoption of circular economy by chemical manufacturers. This business model is being pursued by chemical manufacturers due to its closed loop nature and zero waste process. In the linear economy model, products are manufactured, used and discarded. Whereas, in the circular economy model, products are continuously looped back to the value chain, where they can be reused. This results in lesser energy and resource utilization. 


Circular economy is predominant in the plastics industry due to the following reasons:

  1. Around $100 billion worth of plastic packaging material is lost due to its short-term use.
  2. Majority of the plastic packaging material is not retrieved, and a significant share end up in landfills and as substantial amount escapes out of the collection system. 
  3. Nearly $13 billion worth of damage is caused by plastic waste annually to marine ecosystems.

Regional Markets

Circular economy has become a global phenomenon, with Europe as the center point. Recently, the European Union (EU) and China have agreed to collectively take up circular economy initiatives. On the other hand, US has made a goal to recycle and recover, all the plastic packaging material used by 2040.


A handful of chemical manufacturers see this shift as a chance to imbibe new business opportunities as they close the loop for their products. The credence of circular economy in business terms is much more than development of new products with great value applications. This also provides the chemical manufacturers an opportunity to enhance their manufacturing process, reduce resource utilization, reduce energy consumption, increase vertical integration of the supply chain and have a leverage over the entire lifecycle of a product.


Some of the opportunities provided to the chemical manufacturers by the circular economy are:

  1. Development of innovative services and products can be facilitated at a fast pace by a digital platform. Chemical manufacturers can collaborate with suppliers, customers, and other relevant groups to develop products that adhere to the principles of circular economy. The products are manufactured in such a way, that they are durable, recyclable and less susceptible to repair.
  2. The optimization of business and manufacturing processes are catalyzed by digital tools, which gears up an enterprise for the circular economy. Machine learning tools enable manufacturers to predict product qualities as well as minimize consumption of energy and resources. Few such innovative manufacturing techniques are 3D printing technologies and additive manufacturing.
  3. A digital platform can let manufacturers monitor as well as measure the real time impact of changes in regulatory requirements on their services and products. This would allow them to meet the prevailing regulatory standards in niche markets and rapidly adapt those products as well as find suitable alternatives when regulations change.
  4. In the chemical industry, it allows manufacturers to track and trace manufacturing materials throughout their whole lifecycle with the use of blockchain. This makes it possible for them to authenticate raw materials' origin, which ultimately reinforces fair labor and trade practices. 
  5. An open digital platform has the potential to transform a chemical manufacturer into a network head. This lets platform owners have complete ownership of their business.


Irrespective of the market region, such as US, China or Europe, digital technologies play an important role in assisting chemical manufacturers to thrive in the circular economy. Chemical companies laying the foundation for operating with focus, agility and visibility are likely to have an edge in addressing the circular economy. This would ultimately culminate to make the world a better, safer and cleaner place. uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X