Clarifying European terminology in plastics recycling

Kim Ragaert*, Cloé Ragot, Kevin M. Van Geem, Sascha Kersten, Yoni Shiran, Steven De Meester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The increasing activities in plastics recycling have led to a sprawl of terminology describing different technologies and technology categorizations. This creates not only linguistic confusion but also makes it difficult for regulators, investors, corporate leaders and other stakeholders to fully understand the relationship between different technologies, potentially leading to suboptimal decisions on policy, investment, or collaboration. To bring clarity to this topic, this manuscript provides an overview of (i) the different circular pathways for plastics, with a focus on recycling, (ii) the most common categorization of recycling technologies, (iii) what is considered ‘recycling’ by the European Commission and (iv) some alternative terms used in grey and academic literature to describe recycling technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100871
JournalCurrent Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Circular economy
  • Nomenclature
  • Plastics recycling
  • Recovery


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