Chemical recycling polystyrene looking very promising

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A joint project between Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS) and Agilyx has yielded ‘encouraging’ results, said Norbert Niessner, SCS Chair of Technologies. 

SCS, the joint industry initiative to accelerate circularity for styrenic polymers is working with Agilyx, a company specialised in the development of chemical recycling technologies for plastics, on promoting the circularity of polystyrene through the dissolution and depolymerisation of post-consumer polystyrene waste.

To that end, Agilyx has used its proprietary depolymerisation technology to recycle various mixed plastic waste samples, mainly from food packaging, such as yoghurt pots provided by SCS back into the original monomer.

While the average styrene concentrations obtained thus far are similar to that from samples of high impact polystyrene (HIPS), ‘we are working on further optimising process conditions for maximum yield’, Niessner said.  “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.” 

As  Agilyx CEO Joe Vaillancourt pointed out, the potential for polystyrene closed-loop recycling is enormous. The company is looking forward to further building on these findings together with Styrenics Circular Solutions.

As part of its voluntary pledge within the scope of the campaign launched by the European Commission, SCS, which was incorporated in December 2018, has committed to accelerate the commercial use of technologies that make polystyrene products fully recyclable. Dissolution and chemical recycling of polystyrene open the door for the production of virgin quality material made from recycled styrene monomer that can be used again and again in high-quality applications, and even for food contact.

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