Total to shut polystyrene plant in El Prat, Spain by end of 2019

Author: Ciaran Tyler


LONDON (ICIS)--Total is planning to shut its 110,000 tonne/year polystyrene (PS) plant in El Prat, Spain, according to sources.

Some US states are mulling to ban PS for food packaging. Picture source: Photoalto/REX/Shutterstock

One line is expected to be closed by the end of June and the second one by the end of the year, one source added.

The closure would represent a reduction of roughly one quarter of Total’s European PS capacity.

Another source in Spain added that the measure was almost final, adding it would be "difficult" to revert it due to PS' own market dynamics and falling demand.

It added the measure could affect up to 60 employees at the plant.

“The problem with this plant is its size – it is not enough to compete in a mature market like PS,” the Spanish source said.

“Moreover, its recyclability problems make PS a challenge – even some US states are banning it for fast food packaging. Globally, PS is a tainted plastic and its applications are set to decrease.”

In mid-2018, INEOS announced they would be converting a PS line into an acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) line at its Wingles plant in France.

PS popularity in Europe has been diminishing in recent years as regulations and consumer sentiment has shifted towards promoting plastic alternatives or more widely recycled polymers for single-use applications.

“[The decision] makes sense… It’s a declining market [there’s] too much PS...” one producer in the upstream styrene market commented.

Total was not immediately available for comment at the time of writing.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Lopez and Helena Strathearn