CO2 benefits of plastic recyclate. An overview of CO2 emission factors for mechanical plastic recyclate on behalf of NRK Recycling

The plastics and rubber industry is committed to sustainability. Part of this includes the use of recyclate to reduce the climate impact (or emissions in CO2-eq.) of its products. NRK Recycling has asked CE Delft to provide evidence of the CO2 gains from using recyclate.

In order to achieve specific CO2 targets, the climate benefit of plastic recyclate must first be identified. The key question in this study is: ‘What is the climate impact (in CO2 score) of recycled plastics relative to new fossil (‘virgin’) plastics production?’

In the first place, recycled plastic granulate has a significantly lower climate impact than plastic granulate obtained from virgin production. After all, virgin production requires fossil resources that are not required when recycling plastics. Plastic recycling also provides a second significant climate benefit in terms of the end-of-life phase. Although burning plastics in waste incinerators plants provides energy and heat, it still emits net CO2, which is avoided by recycling.