INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, today discloses first results of the ResolVe project. This project addresses research related to chemical recycling of polystyrene.


The ResolVe project team now has proof of concept of closed loop recycling. The process converts waste polystyrene back to pure styrene via a depolymerisation process, followed by a polymerisation process resulting in a quality identical to virgin polystyrene. Polystyrene is one of very few polymers that can be converted back into its specific monomer. The results show that polystyrene is very well recyclable.


Fundamental questions covered in the ResolVe project include the yield of styrenics in the chemical recycling process and the impact of non-styrenic waste contaminations. It turns out that the chemical recycling process for polystyrene is sensitive to PET contamination. On the other hand, it is hardly impacted by contamination with polyolefins of up to ten percent.


These findings not only allow INEOS Styrolution to address the next step of the project – the pilot phase. They also prepare the grounds for scaling the process for industrial use, and they allow to give guidance to waste sorters.


Norbert Niessner, Director Global R&D/ Intellectual Property at INEOS Styrolution, comments: “The ResolVe project gives us an insight into chemical recycling. As a result, we can clearly say: Polystyrene is indeed made for recycling. Together with today’s progress in sorting technologies of post-consumer waste, I am confident that there is no longer a reason for polystyrene not to be recycled.”


The ResolVe project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education, BMBF, is jointly executed by INEOS Styrolution together with Neue Materialien GmbH Bayreuth as well as with two institutes of the University of Aachen (RWTH) – the Institute for Processing and Recycling (Institut für Aufbereitung und Recycling, I.A.R.) and the Institute of Plastics Processing (Institut für Kunststoffverarbeitung, IKV).

On 20 September 2019 in Brussels, the Circular Plastics Alliance presented and adopted its declaration. The declaration describes the alliance’s vision for more recycled plastics in Europe, as well as their commitments for action to reach the EU target to incorporate 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics into products in the EU annually by 2025.


During the event, Alexandre Dangis, Managing Director of EuPC, signed the declaration on behalf of the European plastics converting industry. EuPC is one of the many private and public stakeholders involved in the plastics value chains that have joined together in the Circular Plastics Alliance, supported by the European Commission in the context of the European Plastics Strategy, to promote the use of more recycled plastics in Europe through voluntary action.


The over 100 signatories declare their commitment to work together along the plastics value chains, including all relevant public and private actors across Europe, to reach this objective whilst ensuring the functionalities of plastic products and packaging, not compromising on consumer protection, safety and hygiene.


All organisations, companies and public authorities willing to contribute to delivering the commitments of the alliance can co-sign the declaration. More information is available here. The declaration can be found here.


On 16 September 2019, Plastic Europe, together with 92 other European associations representing key European stakeholders in the field of research and innovation, signed a joint statement urging the EU institutions to make research, development and innovation (RD&I) a priority within the next financial framework 2021-2027.


The associations urge the Council of the EU to increase the budget allocated under Horizon Europe to at least EUR 120 billion, of which at least 60% should be earmarked for a pillar “Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness.”


The European innovation community is committed to be actively involved in a concrete co-creation process towards Horizon Europe’s successful implementation. However, the programme will need an adequate budget at the level of its ambitions. The European Parliament has already taken a stand to prioritise RD&I in the EU budget. Similarly, we encourage Member States to support a budget of at least €120 billion (in 2018 prices). This would ensure that Horizon Europe delivers on its promises to:


  • Boost Europe’s future growth, employment and competitiveness. As recognised in the European Industrial Strategy, RD&I is the real engine of growth. Getting a sufficient budget for Horizon Europe would not only mean the creation of up to 100,000 jobs in RD&I activities between 2021-2027, but also €11 of GDP in return for each €1 invested over 25 years.
  • Secure Europe’s seat amongst the frontrunners of the technological revolution. While the international competition for innovative solutions escalates, European RD&I expenditure remains relatively low compared to our global competitors. The target of 3% of GDP invested in R&D should now become a reality.
  • Develop and scale up the technologies that will power our continent in the 21st century. Horizon Europe needs to build on the successes of Horizon 2020 and scale up the investments made so far. As stated by the Lamy Group, we need a budget that paves the way for Europe to deliver on the key societal challenges of today and anticipate those of tomorrow.


For such promises to be fulfilled, excellent cross-border collaborative RD&I with impact needs to be prioritised within Horizon Europe. EU Members States should allocate a budget share of at least 60% of Horizon Europe’s total budget to its pillar II – Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness. This pillar is the truly collaborative part of Horizon Europe, breaking silos to promote the flow of knowledge between public research and industry. This Horizon Europe pillar II is crucial to:


  • Build long-term trust-based partnerships amongst a wide variety of European RD&I actors, which is an indispensable element to strengthen Europe’s RD&I ecosystems and industrial value-chains. This would ensure the Industry’s uptake of novel technologies and scale up into new solutions, products and services, improving people’s well-being and quality of life, and increasing European competitiveness.
  • Reduce risk and uncertainty and stimulate business investment in Europe by demonstrating the EU’s support to technology-intensive sectors (including Key Enabling Technologies). This would give the right incentive to private innovators to invest in Europe, rather than abroad.
  • Join forces at EU level to better face the great challenges of today and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Horizon Europe pillar II, containing missions and partnerships, especially aims at this ambitious objective and therefore needs to be supported by an adequate budget.
Sreshta MOSV_BAP

On 27 August 2019 a meeting was held at the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW), between Deputy Minister Nikolay Kanchev and representatives of the Branch Association of Polymers (BAP), on the initiative of the MEP Andrey Slabakov.


The main topic was the transposition of the adopted Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament of 5 June 2019 on reducing the environmental impact of certain disposable plastic products.


During the discussion Tsvetanka Todorova – Chairman of the Board of BAP emphasized that BAP insists that the deadlines for transposition of the Directive should be as light as possible for the polymer industry, so that plastics processors can be reconfigured, paying attention to: the imperative change on a legislative basis, and the construction of a sufficient number of composting facilities for disposable waste from biodegradable polymers, methods for reporting the fulfillment of the objectives of the Directive, the allocation of funds from the manufacturer’s extended liability, methods for certification of biodegradable and recyclable materials, and products, proving the percentage content and quality of recycling, insisting on the participation of BAP in the working group of the Ministry of Environment and Water.


Dencho Denev (Noviz AD, Plovdiv) offered a grace period for the articles in the prohibition list and paid particular attention to the lack of control over the sale of polymer products.


Rumen Ivanov (ZHU-BG EOOD, Gabrovo) spoke about the huge losses that Bulgarian producers will bear and raised the question of how they will be compensated.


Theodora Zhelyazkova (“ATE PLAST” Ltd., Stara Zagora) emphasized the need for dialogue between MoEW and BAP and stated that large trade chains should also be involved in the debate.


Deputy Minister Nikolay Kanchev asked for concrete proposals BAP invited to participate in the activities of the working group at the Ministry. He stressed that very soon, major legislative changes are ahead of the European Directive. He explained that due to the expected losses, it was suggested that Bulgarian producers receive interest-free loans.


In turn, MEP Andrei Slabakov emphasized the need for an information campaign for separate collection of plastic waste. He explained that he had begun the study of European funds and programs that could possibly support Bulgarian producers.

Българско знаме слято с Европейския флаг

A meeting of BAP representatives with MEP Andrei Slabakov was held on 17 August 2019 to discuss the impact on the polymer branch of Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council on reducing the environmental impact of certain plastic products.


Mr. Slabakov is committed to facilitating dialogue between the MOEW and BAP on the transposition and implementation of the Directive in Bulgaria, on which will discuss the expected adverse effects on polymer industry and the possibilities of  their overcoming.


Meeting with Andrei Slabakov

European union

On July 4 and 5, 2019 in Helsinki, a meeting will be held between the EU Ministers responsible for Competitiveness. Although the appointment of a special Vice-President for Industry is expected, the polymer industry in Europe remains united in a Joint call to the Heads of State and Government.


Branch Association Polymers supports this united initiative by signing the joint paper on the positioning of industry at the core of the EU’s future with a Joint call to the Heads of State and Government to:


• Urge the next European Commission to shortlist industry as a top priority of its 5-year Work Programme and appoint a dedicated Vice-President for Industry;
• Require the next European Commission to swiftly present an ambitious long-term EU industrial strategy, which shall include clear indicators and governance;
• Take stock, each year at the Spring European Council, of progress in the implementation of this EU industrial strategy, and provide political guidance to foster European competitiveness.


With the signing of this document, BAP, together with the rest of the polymer industry, relies on proactive and coordinated leadership to ensure that Europe remains a hub for a leading, smart, innovative and sustainable industry, that benefits all Europeans and future generations.


Please read the entire document here:   A Joint call to the Heads of State and Government

plastic bag sea

The ban on plastic in an effort to reduce pollution and tackle climate change can lead to environmental damage, says a team of scientists.


Green activists have called for a reduction in plastics production or a total ban in some areas.


However, the academics from Heriot-Watt University said replacing plastics with other packaging such as glass or metal could double global energy consumption.


They also warned that this could triple greenhouse gas emissions.


The 40-strong group, which draws expertise from engineering, science, economics and social science, said more effort should be put into re-using and recycling plastics.


Professor David Bucknall, from the university’s Institute of Chemical Sciences, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “There have been studies in the last couple of years that have demonstrated that if you take out all of the plastics and replace them with something else…then that would actually make an increase in greenhouse emissions.


“I’m not saying that plastics are not greenhouse emissive, but the replacements would be vastly worse than the plastics themselves. This is the challenge that we face going forwards. Obviously we want to remove the plastics from the oceans, but what do you replace the plastics that we rely on now with?”


Analysis by Kevin Keane, BBC Scotland environment correspondent


The world is consumed with plastic and the politicians are consumed with doing something about it.


For very creditable reasons, they’ve been clamouring to ban products which cause the most harm to the marine ecosystems.


Microbeads were first, followed by cotton buds. Straws are in the firing line too and no one really knows how to deal with coffee cups, because even if replaced with paper alternatives to prevent the paper from decaying from moisture, it must be wrapped with a thin layer of foil, again a polymer product.


These scientists warn of the unintended consequences. Glass transport, for example, uses much more fuel, simply because it is heavier.


They do not say that we have to forget the war with plastic, but just take a holistic view of the problem. The risk is that these mixed messages confuse the user.


The issue has gained momentum and led to significant behavioural change. All agree that simply reducing our plastic use, rather than replacing it with something else, is probably the best thing we can do.


Prof Bucknall also warned of the potential economic damage caused by a total ban.


“Transportation of consumer goods in plastic packaging means fewer vehicles are required for transportation of those goods, because plastics are lightweight, therefore burning less fuel and greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”


“So whilst some people may wish for plastics to be reduced or banned altogether, we need to ensure we are replacing them with materials that are better for the planet.”


“In many cases there is no credible alternative to using a plastic so we need to move towards a ‘circular economy’ for plastics, rather than the largely ‘make-use-dispose’ model we currently adopt.”



plastics banned

Nowadays, we often hear calls to cut carbon emissions by less use of plastics. This example is given as a win-win choice for protecting the environment, the biodiversity and the planet from global warming. Decarbonisation and circular economy into one for the bright future of the planet!


Reality is fundamentally different. Yes, in fact, plastics and composite materials are a problem for the circular economy due to the difficulty of recycling and are often burned or disposed at landfills.


On the other hand, there are no other materials in the history of mankind that lead to such a large reduction in carbon emissions as plastics – thousands of different compounds that are extremely lightweight, resistant and used in a number of industries.


Until today, we have produced about 8.3 billion tons, which practically replace other materials – metals, wood, paper, glass – at least 5 times more weight.


A 2010 denkstatt study shows that replacing plastics used in the EU in 2007 with other materials would result in a relative increase in carbon emissions of about 61%, equivalent to all emissions from a country such as Belgium.


The examples are numerous and quite logical. We only need to think about how much more energy would be needed if we replace all plastic glass bottles that are about 10 times heavier on average! In addition, the extraction and production of glass packaging require much more energy, just like collecting, transporting and washing it for reuse. The mass vehicle is much lighter, more comfortable, safer and more energy-efficient today, primarily thanks to the replacement of much of the metal in the plastic construction. Millions of square kilometers of woods are saved thanks to the replacement of wood with plastics in the production of thousands of articles – from building materials to crates and pallets.


Even more interesting are the many applications of plastics, where substitution is practically impossible. Let’s take artificial rubber, for example, what could replace it in the production of tires? If we had to get the appropriate amount of natural rubber, all the tropical forests would be turned into plantations, and we would still be unable to satisfy the demand. The alternative is the wooden wheels of the wagons, that is, a return in the 19th century. Plastic packaging of disposable foods saves us a huge amount of waste by repeatedly prolonging the shelf life of the food. Insulating materials made of plastics not only lead to the largest energy savings but also have the smallest carbon footprint for manufacturing compared to alternatives. Plastics can be used for controlled energy recovery after the end of their useful life, which means they replace an equivalent amount of gas or coal in the system. Modern low-cost photovoltaic panels or giant windmills are impossible without the extremely lightweight and durable polymeric materials that are deposited in them.


The carbon balance of the whole European plastic market (excluding rubber) shows that the benefits of using it during its useful life (carbon footprint) exceed about 10-15 times the emissions from production and its waste management. This means that there is practically no more carbon-efficient material with so many applications. Or otherwise, plastics are the greenest thing that climate activists could imagine.


Modern civilization is an extremely complex system in which there are no easy solutions for rapid change and improvement. When someone says something is “bad” and we need to get rid of it, we need to think about the alternatives and make the bill. In 99% of cases it will show that the free market itself has made the energy-efficient choice – it is logically also the cheapest – and there is not much potential for improvement. This is the case with plastics – perhaps there is no problem stopping them from using cotton buds and straws, but in the most massive and significant applications, they are undoubtedly the most green alternative as a complete environmental footprint – air, water, resource efficiency, biodiversity conservation – not just carbon emissions. It remains only to solve the problem of managing them as waste, but it is a matter of time, wealth and desire.




The original version of this text was published in August, 2018 in Forbes Bulgaria magazine.

The academic community comes out with real facts about Plastics and uses TEDx to promote it.

BAP hopes for more initiatives like this one.

It is a 12 minutes video but worthwhile watching till the end.

Plastics Rehab Video

On 27 March 2019 the European Parliament adopted the final text of the draft Directive on the reduction of the use of certain types of plastic products during its plenary session without any further changes to the text. The final version of the directive was agreed during the trialogue negotiations between Parliament and the Council before Christmas last year and then approved by the Environment Committee earlier in January 2019.


Prior to the vote, MEPs discussed their positions, with the majority welcoming the initiative of the European Commission and insisting on continuing to work in the field of plastics – from micro- and nanoplastics to endocrine disruptors in packaging. However, some MEPs share their concerns about the speed of the legislative process, the loss of jobs and the danger of such short-sighted policies that do not take into account other disposable materials, alternatives and the general lack of enforcement by the Member States.


The Directive has been approved by a large majority of MEPs with 560 in favour, 35 not in favour and 28 abstentions. Clearly, the European Parliament has endorsed the proposal and the scope enlargement as earlier negotiated this year. This result comes as no surprise as, since its early stages, many politicians have seen such a topic as an entry pass for the next legislation cycle.


The Single Use Plastics Directive, voted by the European Parliament, aims at combating waste that falls into the sea basins through a set of ambitious measures:

  • Prohibition of selected disposable products made of plastic for which there are alternatives on the market: cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, eyepieces, balloon sticks and cups, food and beverage containers made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastics.
  • Measures to reduce the consumption of packaging for food products and beverage containers made of plastics and specific labeling of certain products.
  • Producers’ incentives to cover waste treatment costs applied to products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.
  • A 90% separate collection of plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design requirements for attachment bottle caps, and 25% recycled material in PET bottles from 2025 and 30% 2030 in all plastic bottles.


European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella were also present. The former has been an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal since the beginning and he declared that the focus on plastics is here to stay. As it is shared by the full spectrum of the Parliament, it will be taken on board by the next Commission and Council.


EuPC, while acknowledging the need for a clean environment and seas, still considers this legislative act and the text flawed, both on merit and on the procedural steps to hurry the overall legislative process.


Plastics strategy

Unfortunately, such a regulatory act has been adopted that discriminates against material that has a vital role to play in addressing the current global societal challenges over the coming decades. This decision will have a direct negative impact and the loss of thousands of jobs across Europe. This vote requires Member States and citizens to live and change their consumption habits without focusing on what is key, namely education and pollution reduction behavior. Pollution will continue, but with different products. Unfortunately not properly conducted impact assessments or life cycle analyzes have been carried out due to extremely short deadlines due to the wave taken by EU politicians to fight for the so-called “good cause”.


Following the approval of the text of the Directive by the European Parliament, the Council will adopt the text without debate at a future meeting. As originally planned and recommended by the Commission, the publication in the Official Journal of the EU is now expected in April/May 2019, just in time before the European elections.