Trends in plastics recylcing
Plastics are a hot topic nowadays, with certain types of polymers more easily reused than others. With reuse, new recycling strategies are required, which may have consequences for the drinking water sector. Currently the vast majority of plastics in the Netherlands are recycled mechanically, however chemical recycling is expected to grow to account for 10% of plastic recycled in the Netherlands by 2030. Plastic recycling done in Belgium and Germany are here not yet taken into account. This means that the rivers Rhine and Meuse could already be carrying chemicals from these processes when entering the Netherlands. Chemical recycling may offer benefits over mechanical recycling, in terms of closing the loop in plastic production and processing difficult to recycle waste, including contaminated plastics. However, careful attention should be paid to potential new emissions routes, including emissions to wastewater. The recycling industry would benefit from a clear, streamlined set of regulations, focused on the exposure risk of specific applications of recycled plastics. The water sector, including the drinking water sector, should be present as a stakeholder in these discussions to ensure the protection of water quality.