Depolymerization of polystyrene waste delivers promising results

Depolymerization of polystyrene waste delivers promising results

March 7, 2019
Press Release: Styrenics Circular Solutions

Styrenics Circular Solutions has concluded an evaluation study with Agilyx to move toward achieving full circularity for styrenics

Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), the joint industry initiative to accelerate circularity for styrenic polymers and Agilyx – a developer of chemical recycling technologies for plastics – have revealed some promising results from the depolymerization of various post-consumer polystyrene waste samples.

In a project aimed at supporting SCS in unlocking the intrinsic circularity potential of polystyrene, SCS has provided Agilyx with mixed plastic waste samples, mainly from food packaging, such as yogurt pots. The samples were collected and sorted in several European countries, including Germany, France and Belgium. Agilyx evaluated the composition of the waste feed-stock and subsequently recycled it back into their original monomer, using its proprietary depolymerization technology.

“I am really encouraged by the results achieved so far,” said Dr Norbert Niessner, SCS chair of technologies. “The average styrene concentration 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 aims at further improving the styrene monomer yield from the depolymerization process while reducing co-products. “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,” he explained.

“The potential for polystyrene closed-loop recycling is enormous,” added Joe Vaillancourt, Agilyx’s CEO. “Using our technology platform, we have demonstrated once again the high recyclability of polystyrene even with plastic waste samples of different compositions and sourced from different parts of Europe, which reflects the reality of waste feed-stock in the market today. We are looking forward to further building on these findings together with Styrenics Circular Solutions.”

This depolymerization testing comes after SCS’s recent incorporation in December 2018 and represents a cornerstone of its roadmap to propel the circular economy forward for styrenics. As part of its voluntary pledge in the context of the campaign launched by the European Commission, SCS has committed to dramatically accelerate the commercial use of disruptive technologies that make polystyrene products fully recyclable. Its portfolio of innovative recycling technologies includes dissolution and chemical recycling back to its monomer. New styrenic products can then be made from recycled styrene monomer without any degradation of quality or value so that they can be used again and again in high-quality applications, even for food contact.

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