PS Recycling Tests Said to Show Promise
Projects dedicated to realizing the European Commission’s goal of a circular economy for plastics claim to have shown the viability of manufacturing virgin polystyrene from styrene monomer feedstock created through depolymerization of post-consumer waste
Germany-based polystyrene producer Ineos Styrolution said it has successfully completed lab-scale production of general purpose PS from styrene monomer derived from post-consumer styrenic waste.
With the completion of the tests at its Antwerp, Belgium, site, the company said it has achieved a milestone in its efforts to efficiently use resources and reduce its ecological footprint, while at the same time proving that PS is indeed recyclable.
The tests were carried out with commercial partners and universities, and the Ineos subsidiary said the end-product was of the same quality as PS produced from virgin styrene monomer
Rob Buntinx, president of Ineos Styrolution in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said the company is now looking forward to upscaling the process to an industrial level.
Industry-wide tests with “promising” results
Separately, Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), the styrenics industry’s joint initiative to accelerate circularity for styrenic polymers, has reported promising results from trials to make styrene monomer from depolymerized post-consumer polystyrene waste.
In a project carried out in cooperation with Agilyx, a US-based leading developer of chemical recycling technologies for plastics, the raw materials were drawn from post-consumer food packaging waste streams collected and sorted in several countries, including Germany, France and Belgium.
Agilyx evaluated the composition of the waste and subsequently recycled it back into the original monomer, using its proprietary depolymerization technology.
The industry is “really encouraged by the results achieved thus far,” said Norbert Niessner, SCS Chair of Technologies.
The average styrene concentration, he said, is “typical of our experience with samples of high impact polystyrene (HIPS). Now, we are working on further optimizing process conditions for maximum yield.”
SCS hopes to further improve SM yield from the depolymerization process while reducing byproducts. “We want to find the optimal purity level of post-consumer plastic waste before we move on to replicate the results at a commercial unit,” Niessner said.
“Using our technology platform we have demonstrated once again the high recyclability of polystyrene even with plastic waste samples of different compositions sourced from different parts of Europe,” said Agilyx CEO Joe Vaillancourt.
“We are looking forward to further building on these findings together with Styrenics Circular Solutions,” he added. Across the Atlantic, the company based in the state of Oregon, is working on recycling projects with the American styrenics producers.
SCS was founded in December 2018 to work toward meeting the goals of the EU’s circular economy project. The organization, whose members include Ineos Styrolution Total, Trinseo and Versalis, said it has committed to “dramatically accelerate the commercial use of game-changing technologies that make polystyrene products fully recyclable.”