Decarbonisation Technology - November 2023 Issue

the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ model, a circular economy promotes a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ ethos. In the context of the petrochemical industry, a circular economy entails transforming the linear product life cycle into a circular one. This means designing products for longevity, ease of repair, and eventual disassembly to recover valuable materials. It also involves embracing renewable feedstocks, such as bioplastics derived from plant materials, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) One of the foundational principles of a circular economy is extended producer responsibility. This concept mandates that producers take responsibility for the entire life-cycle of their products, including their eventual disposal. The goal is to internalise the costs of environmental management within the production process, incentivising more sustainable practices (see Figure 1 ). In the petrochemical realm, this translates to manufacturers designing products that can be easily dismantled and recycled at the end of their useful life. This strategy not only reduces waste but also drives innovation in product design and materials selection. Producers are tasked with establishing efficient collection and recycling infrastructure for their products. In the petrochemical sector, this involves creating systems that enable the proper collection and processing of plastics, chemicals, and other products. This infrastructure may include dedicated collection points, partnerships with recycling facilities, and innovative technologies for material recovery. EPR often involves financial mechanisms that compel producers to cover the costs associated with the collection, recycling, and proper disposal of their products. This financial responsibility can drive producers to design products with fewer hazardous materials, reduced environmental impact, and increased recyclability, thereby minimising the costs associated with end-of-life management. To align with EPR principles, producers are encouraged to adopt sustainable materials in their products. In the petrochemical industry, this might involve transitioning from

Waste reduction

Innovation & circular design

Figure 1 Benefits of extended producer responsibility

conventional plastics derived from fossil fuels to biodegradable plastics or bio-based feedstocks. Such a shift not only reduces the environmental impact of products but also contributes to the products with longevity and recyclability in mind, EPR helps conserve valuable resources. The petrochemical industry relies heavily on fossil fuels and raw materials; EPR-driven practices can lead to reduced consumption of these resources by promoting recycling and material recovery. EPR’s emphasis on product recovery and recycling contributes to a significant reduction in waste generation. With proper collection and recycling infrastructure in place, fewer products end up in landfills or incineration facilities, reducing the environmental burden associated with waste disposal. development of a circular economy. By encouraging producers to design EPR stimulates innovation in product design and manufacturing processes. Producers are incentivised to develop products that are not only environmentally responsible but also economically viable. This drive toward circular design can lead to the creation of new markets and business models centred around resource efficiency and sustainability. EPR encourages collaboration between industry, government, and consumers. It


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