INEOS Styrolution, Trinseo and Agilyx plan new PS chemical recycling plant

Author: Matt Tudball

2020/09/09

LONDON (ICIS)--European styrenics majors Trinseo and INEOS Styrolution and chemical recycler Agilyx plan to start up a depolymerisation plant for chemical recycling of polystyrene (PS), an executive at Trinseo said on Wednesday.

Julien Renvoise, global circularity manager for plastics at Trinseo, said the new plant would have a production capacity of 18,000 tonnes/year of PS waste.

Start-up date is planned for 2023.

Renvoise made his remarks at the webinar 'Rethinking Sustainability', organised by the industry group Packaging Europe.

The objective is to reach food contact quality material and offer the same range of PS products as virgin PS, but via the depolymerisation process, he added.

The depolymerisation recycling process will use temperatures of between 300-600 degrees Celsius to convert used PS waste back to liquid styrene, which can then be fed back into the production process to create PS with virgin-like qualities.

“PS for us is really the best contender for depolymerisation chemical recycling. There are different elements to keep in mind, one of which is low depolymerisation temperature [compared to other forms of chemical recycling], consuming less energy," said Renvoise .

"The monomer [produced] is styrene, and it is liquid so it is easy to purify, so when it comes to cost and energy, again, [the process is] consuming less.”

The process yield would stand at 70-80%, he said, pointing out that the depolymerisation process takes the polymer back to the monomer rather than back to naphtha-like oils, as is the case with some other forms of chemical recycling, giving depolymerisation a shorter loop compared to other circular processes.

Renvoise also announced a second depolymerisation plant, to be built in Belgium and supported by what he described as a leading recycler.

This plant would take 17,000 tonnes/year of PS waste, with completion set for the second half of 2022, and a further expansion by 2024.

Details of this project were not fully disclosed.

Front page picture: Pieces of polystyrene collected from a river in South Africa
Source: Kim Ludbrook/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Click here to see regulatory targets and a list of chemical and mechanical recyclers on the ICIS Circular Economy topic page.

To register free of charge for the ICIS PET Value Chain Virtual Conference click here.