“One of the chief requirements now is getting the incentives in place to realise the potential of chemical plastics recycling,” suggests Kevin Van Geem. “The EU’s Plastics Strategy is a very positive step in this respect. Chemical recycling is economically viable, but there’s still a need to work out the right models that work locally in the context of a particular infrastructure. We can see some important developments happening in the course of the next five years, with investments in several plants announced by Indaver happening here in Belgium alone.”

This is not to suggest that further innovation is not needed. “While robust technologies are already available, it would make things much easier if we could improve the selectivity of the process,” says professor Van Geem. “In the terms of my analogy if we could select only the yellow bricks.”

“There is progress in relation to all the challenges,” concludes Mr Whyle. “The evolution of technology is gathering pace, with much activity, ranging from early stage R&D to pilot projects. There’s particularly important work going into catalytic processes. Initiatives such as Project Beacon, involving Zero Waste Scotland and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, are worth keeping an eye on. Moreover, we’re delighted with the Commission’s active role as recently outlined in the Plastics Strategy. This will support both basic research and the development of new systems and catalysts, as well as helping drive the required change and investment."