On our way to circularity and zero emissions goals

The European plastics system has to change within 5 years

April sees the release of ReShaping Plastics, a new groundbreaking report which shows us the pathways to a circular, climate neutral plastics system in Europe. This report by Systemiq was commissioned by PlasticsEurope but was composed in full scientific independence. Standing guard over this independence was Maastricht University’s own Circular Plastics professor Kim Ragaert, who co-chaired the steering committee along with former European Commission vice-president Jyrki Katainen.


ReShaping Plastics focuses on four of the most important plastic-using sectors: packaging, household goods, automotive, and construction, and presents six scenarios, outlining which actions should be prioritized for different plastic applications in order to meet circularity and climate mitigation goals. To achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, multiple less mature, innovative technologies and approaches need to be developed and deployed in addition to proven circular economy levers to further decrease GHG emissions and decouple plastic from fossil fuel feedstocks.

Integrated systems change

The conclusions are clear: we need complimentary, integrated systems change if we are ever to reach net carbon zero. Different technologies will have a key role to play, from electrification of crackers to (mechanical and chemical) recycling of plastics. But also smart reductions and adapted product design have a role to play. This is exactly the kind of insights we are bringing to students in our new Circular Engineering bachelor and the type of research which is being spearheaded at FSE’s Circular Chemical Engineering department (CCE).

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