To maximise the intrinsic value of polystyrene so that it is not lost forever, INEOS Styrolution has developed a process to convert post-consumer polystyrene waste back into its building block – styrene monomer – via depolymerisation. This styrene monomer can be reused to make high quality new polystyrene products without any impurities.
The vision: recycled polystyrene at commercial scale
The story started back in 2019 when INEOS Styrolution announced its successful test run in producing polystyrene from recycled material. Unternehmensgruppe Theo Müller, a leader in dairy products, embraced this opportunity to use this chemically recycled material in its yoghurt cups. The phased approach to the collaboration hopes to result in commercial scale roll out of the yoghurt cups in 2022.
From a quality and aesthetic perspective, there is no difference between yoghurt cups made from conventional polystyrene and the recycled polystyrene provided by INEOS Styrolution. A distillation step in the process removes impurities and allows styrene to be polymerised back to polystyrene without any compromise in quality.
The reality: a sustainability game changer
The excitement around this chemical recycling innovation was reflected when INEOS Styrolution was declared joint winner of the 2019 ICIS Innovation Awards in the category “Innovation with Best Benefit for Environment and Sustainability”.
The company’s demonstration of a closed loop solution by polymerising styrene from depolymerised polystyrene was selected as it showed a distinct benefit to the environment and to the sustainability of the company and its customers.
INEOS will continue to work closely with customers and partners in the value chain to develop innovative products and solutions to meet their sustainability targets.
About INEOS Styrolution
INEOS Styrolution is the leading global styrenics supplier, with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 90 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering solutions, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets. At the same time, these innovative and sustainable best-in-class solutions help make the circular economy for styrenics a reality. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including automotive, electronics, household, construction, healthcare, packaging and toys/sports/leisure. In 2020, sales were at 4 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,600 people and operates 20 production sites in ten countries.