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INEOS Styrolution: Breakthrough in chemical recycling of polystyrene

INEOS Styrolution: Breakthrough in chemical recycling of polystyrene

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INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, has announced that it had completed the first successful test runs producing virgin polystyrene from previously depolymerised material. These experiments, completed at the company's Antwerp site in Belgium, can be seen as the practical proof of the recyclability of polystyrene.

A lab-scale quantity of general purpose polystyrene produced from 100% recycled styrene monomer by INEOS Styrolution in Antwerp signals a game changer in polystyrene production. The material is the result of experimental polystyrene production runs with styrene monomer feedstock produced from depolymerisation of styrenic plastic. The tests – done in cooperation with commercial partners and universities – resulted in the production of virgin material with the same product properties as polystyrene produced from new styrene monomers.

"We are very excited having achieved this breakthrough," comments Michiel Verswyvel, Global R&D Expert. "Due to its relatively clean decomposition into its building blocks, polystyrene is almost designed to be recycled. Within our global project team we are working to make this a stable process on a commercial level, by learning for example more about purity requirements of the feedstock material," he adds.

Rob Buntinx, President EMEA, summarises: "I am convinced that we have achieved a significant milestone in proving that polystyrene is recyclable and contributes to reducing post-consumer waste. We are now looking forward to scaling the process to an industrial level and saving valuable resources."

The announcement is part of INEOS Styrolution's ambitious efforts aiming at circularity for styrenics to save valuable resources, recycle styrenic waste and reduce the ecological footprint.

About the company

INEOS Styrolution is the leading, global styrenics supplier with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. 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 2017, sales were at 5.3 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,300 people and operates 18 production sites in nine countries.

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