ReVital Polymers, Pyrowave and INEOS Styrolution partner to launch polystyrene recycling consortium
Pyrowave technology to help to reduce amount of polystyrene packaging going to landfill
At the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy, held in Halifax this week, three industry leaders involved with post-consumer packaging recovery - ReVital Polymers, Pyrowave and INEOS Styrolution - announced a strategic partnership to recycle polystyrene packaging. The partnership will focus on materials collected in consumer curbside and depot recycling systems as well as other sources such as restaurants, offices, schools and universities.
The collaboration will use advanced recycling technology pioneered by Pyrowave that will close the loop by recycling single-serve polystyrene packaging and utilizing recycled polystyrene in the manufacturing of new products and packaging. This Canadian solution will not only reduce the amount of polystyrene packaging going to landfill, but will also address the global problem of plastic pollution in marine environments.
Polystyrene is mostly known for its use in foam and rigid packaging, containers, cups and utensils commonly used for food and beverage delivery in supermarkets and take-out food service. By enabling this ground-breaking recycling chain, ReVital, Pyrowave and INEOS Styrolution will change the way post-consumer polystyrene packaging is recycled in an integrated, restorative and regenerative manner that maintains the material's highest utility and value within a circular economy.
ReVital Polymers Inc., located in Sarnia, Ontario, is a member of the Circular Polymers Group, and a North American leader in processing post-consumer plastics. ReVital will install Pyrowave's Catalytic Microwave Depolymerization (CMD) technology as part of its plastics recycling process. Pyrowave's award-winning microwave machine will convert ReVital's sorted post-consumer polystyrene packaging to a liquid that contains plastic building blocks, called monomers, which will then be used by INEOS Styrolution.
INEOS Styrolution is a global leader in styrenics that manufactures and supplies polystyrene for various food service packaging applications and consumer goods products. INEOS Styrolution will process the material from ReVital and Pyrowave in a final step to return it to virgin resin that can be made into any new polystyrene application.
Pyrowave's technology, the connecting link between the ReVital and INEOS Styrolution, provides a process that makes polystyrene infinitely recyclable even with colour additives and food residue.
"This is a game changer for consumers and for municipal and industrial, commercial and institutional recycling programs," said Keith Bechard, Chief Commercial Officer at ReVital Polymers Inc. "Polystyrene packaging, regardless of colour, food residue or odours, can be successfully added to recycling programs. When these materials are shipped to ReVital, they will be recycled into a high-value material that closes the loop. For ReVital, this project is an opportunity to increase our range of acceptable feedstock, increase the recovery rate for residential and commercial recycling programs and increase our value proposition to customers."
The three companies are committed to reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfill or contaminates the world's waterways and oceans.
"Although we know there is a lot of polystyrene waste around us, surprisingly the challenge we face is the lack of available material because it is not properly recovered," said Jocelyn Doucet, CEO of Pyrowave. "Pyrowave's technology expands the range of acceptable polystyrene feedstock, making it possible to build a new value chain that links ReVital's processing expertise with INEOS Styrolution's global end-market capacity."
The Pyrowave process is an example of how innovation in diversion technology goes beyond resin-to-resin recycling technologies. Bechard noted: "These new technologies can improve recovery capabilities, drive our societies closer to zero waste and enhance circular economy objectives. We are very excited to bring our years of expertise in large-scale plastic recycling operations to support the commercialization of Pyrowave's technology. We want to be the leader in adopting new circular technologies applied to recycling and our expertise in innovation makes it a perfect fit for our company."
The industry would like to send the signal that post-consumer polystyrene can now be accepted through various collection programs. New technologies like Pyrowave are generating chemicals that are used by the manufacturers as feedstock to make new products and close the loop.
"INEOS Styrolution is extremely excited about this project, which brings together major players across the value chain with a smart solution to recycle polystyrene through new innovative technologies," said Ricardo Cuetos, Vice President Americas, Standard Products, INEOS Styrolution America LLC. "Chemical recycling enables us to close the loop and prevents valuable waste from entering our lands, waterways and oceans."
Polystyrene is versatile, inexpensive to produce, lightweight to transport and has a low carbon footprint compared to other packaging materials. The insulating properties of foam containers helps keep food at the desired temperature. But this material, like many other single-use packaging applications, suffers from poor recycling rates due to major limitations in recovering and utilizing soiled post-consumer containers.
The support from the public and private sector has been essential in developing Pyrowave's technology and this project will continue to generate economical value and create and maintain jobs in the plastic recycling industry while strengthening the development of a more sustainable chemical industry. This project shows that innovative technologies developed in Canada can enable new circular business models, create new economical benefits and help solve a growing global environmental problem.