Current mechanical recycling of plastics cannot deal with all plastic waste and thus additional technologies are needed to make plastic circular. One of the most promising ones is chemical recycling, also called feedstock recycling because plastic waste is ‘deconstructed’ into building blocks, monomers or other chemicals, that can ‘feed’ back to the beginning of the chemical value chains thus serving as alternatives to currently used feedstock. A specific type of chemical recycling is depolymerisation: this breaks down the polymer into its monomer. INEOS Styrolution, together with INDAVER, is working on a depolymerisation demoplant for polystyrene located in the Port of Antwerp.
Together with another plant of INEOS Styrolution located in France (Wingles), this will allow INEOS Styrolution to work towards its pledge of 30% of post-consumer polystyrene on the market as recycled content by 2025. Since INEOS Styrolution has also successfully proven to be able to make 100% recycled polystyrene (rPS) form depolymerised polystyrene to styrene, the true potential of chemical recycling as a solution for the circular economy has been established.
Polystyrene is a plastic which is widely used for food packaging like yoghurt pots, cups, trays, …, and has the unique property to easily decompose from a temperature above 350°C to its monomer styrene. Styrene can be further purified and used back for the polystyrene production. This delivers a solution for several types of waste quality and brings it back to high quality styrene, suitable for all applications including food contact applications.
INEOS Styrolution works globally with research institutions as well as with recycling and sorting companies to drive chemical recycling for polystyrene forward by optimising processes and scaling the process for industrial use. In Belgium they cooperate with Indaver, who developped a chemical recycling demoplant that will be operational in 2021. This will be the first demoplant in Europe which will depolymerise polystyrene waste back into molecules for new products.