Materials manufacturer Trinseo and Fernholz, a plastics packaging manufacturer headquartered in Germany have developed a new grade of post-consumer recycled polystyrene. The material is produced using a chemical recycling dissolution process in which post-consumer waste is dissolved in a solvent followed by a series of purification steps. During these steps, the polymer is separated from additives and contaminants, resulting in a PS polymer containing recycled post-consumer waste.
Fernholz is working closely with Trinseo to incorporate r-PS into sheet production, which can be used for food packaging applications in compliance with food safety requirements. The latest Form Fill Seal (FFS) formulations incorporate 40% r-PS, depending on the final application. To date, full-scale field tests for processing, migration, sensory testing and other common parameters have revealed that r-PS can be readily processed on classic FFS machines, eliminating the need for costly equipment upgrades.
“With r-PS technology, we have developed a process that will help the plastics industry conserve resources and reduce oil consumption,” said Nicolas Joly, vice president Plastics & Feedstocks at Trinseo.
The new material grade is already being trialed by several European dairy companies, some of whom have already launched new products using the recycled polystyrene food packaging.
“The feedback we have received from customers so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Uwe Fernholz, managing director at Fernholz. “The market has been waiting for a solution like this for a long time.
As one of the few materials with PCR content available in large quantities, Trinseo has the capacity to supply the dairy industry and related sectors with several thousand tons of the material. Furthermore, due to the recycling technology involved in the process, mono-material packaging, though preferable, is not mandatory. The lid or label can be safely separated as part of the recycling process.
In addition to this initiative, Trinseo is also engaged in other PS circularity programmes including a depolymerisation scheme and clean mechanical recycling. The company is a founding member of Europe-based Styrenics Circular Solutions, a consortium that explores new methods for PS recycling.