A high-level desk-based research study and series of stakeholder interviews has been conducted to ascertain the key non-technical challenges to the implementation of non-mechanical recycling in the UK, with particular emphasis on legislative elements. 

This work has been conducted to assist that of the UKRI National Interdisciplinary Centre for the Circular Chemical Economy (CircularChem) towards reducing UK synthetic/chemical derived waste, the environmental impacts of production and consumption, and to create opportunities for new UK industry development.

The non-mechanical (aka chemical) recycling sector is rapidly emerging and has the potential to support and complement current best practices in waste prevention and circularity, predominantly for plastics and the difficult to (mechanically) recycle category (films and flexibles).

There are a number of challenges in developing infrastructure. The challenges are by no means exhaustive, all elements are systemically entwined with multiple feedback loops and unintended consequences outside just those listed. Recommendations are based on current evidence of the challenges and solutions already proposed. Mapping explicit mechanisms by which these challenges are associated is extremely difficult; regardless, readers are urged to consider each element, which are discussed separately here, as part of a whole for the challenges with implementing chemical recycling to a greater extent in a UK context.

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