French to develop EPS Recycling Scheme

  • French to develop EPS Recycling Scheme (c) Jon LarsonFrench to develop EPS Recycling Scheme (c) Jon Larson

Two French companies and two national industry associations have joined forces to launch a polystyrene recycling system as part of France’s contribution to the EU’s Circular Economy plans. According to estimates, some 110,000 t of PS-based packaging is placed on the market annually across the country.

The partners in the venture – energy and petrochemicals group Total, building materials producer Saint-Gobain, the recyclers association Citeo and dairy products group Syndifrais – are currently studying the technical and cost feasibility of their scheme, with an eye to launching it up to 2020. Other players in the PS and recycling fields may join the project at a later date.

Citeo, the recycling group formed in 2017 through a merger of French national packaging waste company Eco Emballages with Ecofolio, will have responsibility for sorting and preparing the collected waste material for recycling, while Syndifrais will evaluate the technical findings to improve the plastic products and facilitate their reuse. The project will also seek to identify uses for the recyclate.

As its contribution, Total will utilize the recycling technology it successfully tested last year to produce 4,000 t/y of virgin quality PS containing at least 20% recyclate at its plants in Carling, France, and Feluy, Belgium, by 2019. Input material will be drawn from the French household collection system.

Through its subsidiary Placoplatre, Saint-Gobain is already participating in circular economy initiatives. Placoplatre collects discarded EPS at construction sites and reuses the material in its own production. The company based in Brittany also hopes to use the waste to produce higher quality insulation material containing a recycled component. 

Earlier this year, France introduced its circular economy road map under the name Feuille de route pour l’économie circulaire (FREC) and set itself the goal of recycling 100% of plastics waste by 2025.

At present, the country recycles only 22% of such waste, which is well below the European average.

Earlier this month, 55 companies and associations working in France, including producers and consumers of packaging and those active in the building and automotive industries, signed a voluntary commitment to use altogether 275,000 additional t of recycled plastics up to 2025.

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