Covestro Urges Innovative Recycling Technologies Ahead of UN Conference on Plastic Pollution

Large-Advancing circular solutions with chemistry

(IN BRIEF) Covestro, a global provider of polymer materials, emphasizes the need for innovative recycling technologies ahead of the UN conference on plastic pollution. The company has already achieved success with its chemical recycling method and plans to establish a global research center for processing plastic waste. Covestro aims to address the low recycling rates of plastics and contribute to reducing plastic waste pollution. The company has made breakthroughs in chemical recycling for mattress foam and is leading research projects focused on recycling rigid foam and improving the recycling of food packaging. Covestro’s initiatives align with the goal of achieving a more sustainable future for plastic materials.

(PRESS RELEASE) LEVERKUSEN, 26-May-2023 — /EuropaWire/ —  Covestro AG (ETR: 1COV), a German producer of polyurethane and polycarbonate based raw materials and one of world’s leading polymer companies, underscores the critical need for innovative recycling technologies to address the low recycling rates of used plastics as the upcoming UN conference aims to develop a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution. Covestro has already achieved success with its novel chemical recycling method and plans to collaborate with six other chemical groups to establish a global research center for processing plastic waste.

The international negotiations, known as INC-2, will take place in Paris from May 29 to June 2, with a primary focus on drafting a global agreement to combat plastic waste pollution by the end of 2024. The process was initiated by the international community at the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2022. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), approximately 22 million tons of plastic waste, including microplastics, enter the oceans and the environment each year¹. Without intervention, this annual amount could double by 2060.

“Resource consumption is on the rise and mountains of waste are growing – with negative consequences for the environment and climate. We urgently need to take countermeasures here and fundamentally change consumption habits and production patterns,” emphasizes Dr Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro. “We need to make the circular economy a reality, and recycling is crucial here, in addition to the production of long-lasting and resource-conserving products. Covestro can and wants to play a central role in this.”

Addressing the current global recycling rate of only nine percent² for plastic waste, Covestro highlights a study indicating that scaling up recycling on an industrial level could potentially meet nearly 60 percent of plastic production with recycled materials by 2050, reducing petroleum consumption by 30 percent³. To accelerate the development of low-carbon emitting technologies for chemical production and plastic waste processing, Covestro and six other international chemical companies have signed a collaboration agreement under the World Economic Forum’s Low Carbon Emitting Technologies initiative. The partnership will establish a research and development center in collaboration with the Dutch research institute TNO. Initial efforts will focus on sorting, cleaning, and preparing plastic waste for subsequent recycling technologies.

Covestro recognizes the challenge posed by plastics that are difficult or impossible to recycle, leading the company to advocate for the development of chemical recycling as an additional solution. Chemical recycling involves breaking down used plastic into its chemical components, enabling the production of new materials from these molecules.

Covestro has achieved a significant breakthrough in the chemical recycling of soft foam used in mattresses. Currently, around 40 million mattresses in the European Union alone4 end up in waste incineration plants or landfills each year. With its innovative “Evocycle CQ-Mattress” process, Covestro can now recycle the two central foam components. The company is further developing this process at its Leverkusen site in Germany, aiming for future industrial implementation.

In collaboration with partners across Europe, Covestro is also leading the CIRCULAR FOAM research project, focusing on the chemical recycling of rigid foam used in insulation for buildings and refrigeration appliances. If the material cycle can be closed successfully, it could save around one million metric tons of waste and three million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year in the European Union starting from 2040.

Additionally, Covestro is actively working to improve the recycling of food packaging made of paper and cardboard. The company recently introduced a new development to the market – a special coating material that can be recycled alongside the packaging, unlike conventional coatings. This coating material aligns with the principles of circularity, as it is produced using raw materials derived partially from plants.

About Covestro:

Covestro is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality polymer materials and their components. With its innovative products, processes and methods, the company helps enhance sustainability and the quality of life in many areas. Covestro supplies customers around the world in key industries such as mobility, building and living, as well as the electrical and electronics sector. In addition, polymers from Covestro are also used in sectors such as sports and leisure, cosmetics and health, as well as in the chemical industry itself.

The company is committed to becoming fully circular and is striving to become climate neutral by 2035 (scope 1 and 2). Covestro generated sales of EUR 18 billion in fiscal 2022. At the end of 2022, the company had 50 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 18,000 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).

Forward-looking statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Media contacts:

Petra Schäfer
Global Innovation Communications
+49 214 6009 6332
+49 172 6708416

Svenja Paul
Global Media Relations
+49 173 3056862

SOURCE: Covestro AG


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