Advanced recycling plant to produce food-grade polystyrene

TOMRA, INEOS Styrolution, and EGN Entsorgungsgesellschaft Niederrhein have announced a project to convert post-consumer polystyrene (PS) waste into recycled polystyrene for food packaging applications.

EGN, a subsidiary of the SWK AG, will build an advanced mechanical recycling facility with a capacity to process 40 kt of post-consumer polystyrene (PS) waste per year. It is expected to be the first large-scale facility of its kind. The new facility will be located in Krefeld, Germany. It is expected to start up in mid-2025.

EGN will manage sorting and washing, while INEOS Styrolution will be responsible for the “super-cleaning” purification process to comply with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) requirements for food contact applications.

TOMRA will provide sorting technology and feedstock complete the project. TOMRA Feedstock will collect post-consumer polystyrene waste from disposed food packaging and deliver it to the new site.

“We share INEOS Styrolution’s vision of closing the loop for food-contact quality polystyrene. I expect the dairy industry to especially benefit from this new offering by allowing them to mechanically recycle from yoghurt pot to yoghurt pot creating a true circular economy for this material,” said Pierre Vincent, managing director of EGN.

PS is one of the best sortable plastics in the waste stream and is one of only two polymers that can achieve food-contact qualities with mechanical recycling. The material offers infinite recyclability, retaining its property profile after many mechanical recycling cycles at virgin quality levels. Due to its properties, PS absorbs fewer contaminants in the waste stream.