Author: Paul Morden, Post Media
Sarnia’s ReVital Polymers and INEOS Styrolution have joined a partnership to recycle polystyrene commonly used in foam and rigid packaging for grocery and take-out food.
The recycling consortium, which also includes recycling equipment manufacturer Pyrowave, was announced Wednesday in Halifax during an industry event held alongside a G7 ministerial meeting on climate change, oceans and clean energy.
“It gives us the opportunity to extend recycling fully into the polystyrene product line,” said Keith Bechard, chief commercial officer at ReVital Polymers, a container and plastics recovery facility in Sarnia.
The material used often in food packaging has “a poor record of recovery,” Bechard said.
“Now, we’ve built the capability to recover these items using technology by Pyrowave” in partnership INEOS Styrolution, a global supplier of products that include polystyrene, which makes styrene at a production site in Sarnia, he said.
Pyrowave has catalytic depolymerization technology which will be installed at ReVital’s site in Sarnia to convert polystyrene into monomer liquid, Bechard said.
INEOS Styrolution will process the material from ReVital and Pyrowave to return it to virgin resin that can be in new polystyrene applications.
“We’re talking about the circular economy where we can actually recover existing product packaging” and use it in new product packaging, Bechard said.
“And, it’s an infinite recycling process,” he added.
“It doesn’t diminish, it doesn’t degrade.”
The process will include removing food contamination and colouring from existing packaging.
“It’s going to mean more business and more jobs,” Bechard said about the impact the new partnership will have on ReVital’s Sarnia site.
He said a “commercialization process” is expected to happen over the next two years.
“We’ll have a good understanding at the end of that time what the final outcome is going to be in terms of revenue and employment,” Bechard said.
The partnership is expected to reduce the amount of polystyrene packaging going to landfill, and provide “greenhouse gas benefits,” he said.
“Although we knew 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,” Pyrowave CEO Jocelyn Doucet said in a news release.
“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.”
Richardo Cuetos, a vice-president with INEOS Styrolution America, said in the release, “chemical recycling enables us to close the loop and prevents valuable waste from entering our lands, waterways and oceans.”
Bechard said there was applause at the industry event when the new partnership was announced in Halifax.
“People understand the significance of this because, quite frankly, we’ve got a poor track record recovering polystyrene,” he said.
Polystyrene is lightweight, inexpensive to produce and the insulating properties of the foam containers made from it helps to keep food at a desired temperature, but it has had poor recycling rates due to limitations in recovering and using soiled containers after their use.
“We’re solving those problems,” Bechard said.