by Karl Vrancken, Research Manager Sustainable Materials, VITO / Professor, University of Antwerp
Europe is at a crossroads for the way it manages plastic, plastic waste, and plastic waste trade. Plastic and plastic waste is traded worldwide. Exports from the EU to Asia have been a means to deal with insufficient recycling capacities in the EU. Waste import restrictions in China and Hong Kong have triggered a shift of exports to other countries.
Since some types of plastic waste have been added to the UN Basel Convention, the option of exporting plastic waste is becoming increasingly difficult, requiring to build a more robust and circular economy for plastic in Europe.
This triggers the need for expanding the existing recycling capacity with new chemical recycling processes. The challenge is to develop value chains such that this new capacity will be complementary to the existing mechanical recycling processes, and allow to reach the recycling goals put forward be the European Circular Economy Action Plan.
About Karl Vrancken
Karl Vrancken (°1969) is research manager sustainable materials management at VITO. He guides the strategic management of VITO’s Materials programme and senior expert on circular economy. He is part-time professor at the University of Antwerp (Dept. Bio-engineering), where he teaches sustainable resources management.
He has broad experience in projects on circular economy, waste management and secondary raw materials, He is chairman of the European Circular Economy Research Alliance and scientific chair of the circular economy track of the Global Science and Technology Innovation Conference, (GSTIC). He is recognized nationally and internationally as expert and keynote speaker on circular economy.
At VITO, our aim is a society where sustainability is the norm. We are working on global projects to promote the transition to sustainability. We create innovative technological solutions and actively share our knowledge with businesses and government bodies. We are a government-owned research institute, based in Flanders and working around the world. Circular economy is at the heart of our research strategy.
About University of Antwerp
The University of Antwerp is a young, dynamic and forward-thinking university. It integrates the assets of its historical roots with its ambition to contribute positively to society.
The University of Antwerp develops, provides access to and disseminates scientific knowledge through research, teaching and academic service to the community and accomplishes these tasks in a spirit of academic freedom and responsibility.
The University of Antwerp espouses active pluralism. In that spirit, it stimulates critical research and teaching, reflection and debate on scientific, social, philosophical and ethical questions.