Companies in the U.S. and Europe are leading the way to a circular economy through commercial-scale chemical recycling of polystyrene (PS).
Ineos Styrolution Group GmbH and Trinseo SA recently announced that they will use technology from U.K.-based Recycling Technologies Ltd. to convert used PS products back into virgin-equivalent styrene monomer. Joint plans here will see Ineos Styrolution build a full commercial-scale recycling plant in France, while Trinseo is set to build one in Belgium.
Both of these plants are scheduled to become operational in 2023, with an annual recycling capacity of 15,000 tons per plant. Prior to the launch of these two commercial-scale plants, the three companies will build a pilot plant in the U.K. to further develop their recycling technology.
In the U.S., meanwhile, Americas Styrenics LLC (AmSty) and Agilyx Corp. formed a joint venture in 2019 to run the world’s first commercial-scale PS chemical recycling plant in Oregon. The two companies currently intend to develop their technology further and build a recycling facility with a daily capacity of 50–100 tons in St. James, Louisiana.
Then on top of all this, last year saw Ineos Styrolution, Trinseo and AmSty sign a joint development agreement on PS recycling.
Compared to other polymers, PS requires fewer materials to make into final products and 40 percent less energy to convert back into a monomer. These factors look set to enable commercial-scale recycling for PS at an earlier date than for other synthetic polymers.