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Ineos Styrolution and Agilyx to develop polystyrene recycling technology

By Mary Page Bailey |

Agilyx Corp. (Tigard, Oregon; www.agilyx.com) and INEOS Styrolution (Frankfurt am Main, Germany; www.ineos-styrolution.com) have signed a joint development agreement to develop a recycling process for polystyrene based on “chemical recycling” in the USA. This collaboration is aimed at achieving a circular economy, where polystyrene waste is recycled into virgin, high-quality styrenic polymers, thereby reducing plastic waste and allowing for re-use of this valuable material.

This “chemical recycling” technology is based on depolymerization of post-consumer polystyrene waste, which is expected to result in new virgin, high-quality polystyrene ultimately for food-related uses.

“We are excited about this collaborative effort with INEOS Styrolution.  The ability of our technology to divert waste polystyrene from landfills and create a sustainable recycled polymer aligns with global efforts of waste diversion and the move to a circular economy.  This is one of many privileged partnerships we are continuing to develop to help advance the scaling of this technology both domestically and in international markets”, said Joseph Vaillancourt, CEO, Agilyx Corporation.

“We are very pleased to join efforts and collaborate with Agilyx in this venture. Chemical recycling and innovative recycling solutions for polystyrene will enable us to re-use collected post-consumer polystyrene waste into our manufacturing processes to produce high-quality virgin polystyrene. This represents a great opportunity to save valuable resources and avoid waste ending in landfills”, said Ricardo Cuetos, VP Standard Products, INEOS Styrolution America LLC. “This project is an important step in our efforts to recycle polystyrene taking advantage of innovative technologies,” he adds.

Separately, Ineo Styrolution also announced that it has been granted a funding from the German Federal Ministry (BMBF) for a research project regarding recycling of polystyrene. The project entails a technical feasibility study and the development of a holistic recycling concept in collaboration with waste management companies. The project also includes a commercial and an ecological evaluation of the recycling process.

The project is funded as a joint project involving several institutions and research facilities. It will be executed with contributions from INEOS in Köln. Two institutes of the University of Aachen (RWTH) – the Institute for Processing and Recycling (Institut für Aufbereitung und Recycling, I.A.R.) and the Institute of Plastics Processing (Institut für Kunststoffverarbeitung, IKV) – as well as Neue Materialien GmbH Bayreuth will support the project which is planned to run for three years.

Dr. Norbert Niessner, Director Global R&D/ Intellectual Property, is excited about the sanction of the project: “Significant efforts to develop processes for recycling plastic waste were made in the 1980s and 1990s already. However, industry-scale solutions were never implemented due to engineering challenges and for economic reasons. Increased challenges with growing amounts of waste, an increased awareness for the environment and the urge for sustainable solutions have led to a renewed interest in recycling again.”

There has been much activity around polystyrene recycling in recent months. A demonstration plant for a new recycling technology has also been announced in Canada.

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