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Europe’s first polystyrene advanced recycling pilot plant

Ineos Styrolution, one of the leaders in styrenics, has recently confirmed its decision to invest into a pilot plant for advanced recycling of polystyrene. With regard to that, it is possible to observe that this material is largely used in the packaging industry, indeed it can be found in several applications for food such as meat and semi-liquid food such as yogurt. The site will be set up in collaboration with Recycling Technologies, a research, engineering, and manufacturing company, placed in Swindon, UK, which has developed innovative technologies to turn hard-to-recycle plastic waste (including polystyrene and flexible packaging) into feedstocks for new plastic production. It is expected to be operational in the second half of 2022.

The decision is a significant step forward launching polystyrene recycling through depolymerisation technology. Depolymerisation is an advanced recycling technology that converts polystyrene waste feedstock back into its main building block, Styrene which can then be used to manufacture new polystyrene with identical properties to the virgin material. The unique properties of polystyrene allow this efficient monomer recycling process to be harnessed avoiding the need to downcycle polystyrene. An additional benefit of depolymerisation is a significant decrease of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with the production of virgin polystyrene from naphtha.

The Swindon pilot plant will be based on Recycling Technologies’ fluidised bed reactor technology, which offers excellent scalability making it the technology of choice for future even larger recycling plants.

Dr. Alexander Glück, President Emea at Ineos Styrolution commented: “I am excited to see this project move ahead. With Recycling Technologies, we have found a partner, who is not only offering a very attractive technology, but who is also sharing our own vision to avoid polystyrene ending up in landfills or being incinerated. We are on the right path to make polystyrene a circular material.”

Adrian Griffiths, CEO & Founder of Recycling Technologies added, “We welcome Ineos Styrolution’s decision and are pleased to be a critical element of the team to build Europe’s first advanced chemical polystyrene recycling facility. Harnessing our fluidised bed engineering technology and expertise to recycling polystyrene is a critical step to making polystyrene circular.”