Using state-of-the-art technologies developed by Norwegian sorting expert Tomra, post-consumer polystyrene waste content can now be sorted with extremely high final product purity, Ineos reports.
Tests were performed under the umbrella of Styrenics Circular Solutions, in which, with the help of Tomra’s near-infrared (NIR) sensor technology, post-consumer plastic waste was sorted in a multi-step process, which included initial sorting from post-consumer waste, grinding into smaller flakes, washing, drying and flake sorting. The resulting purity of polystyrene turned out to be higher than 99.9%, well beyond what is required to successfully recycle polystyrene through both mechanical and more advanced recycling processes.
According to Jürgen Priesters, SVP, Circular Economy at Tomra, this result is due to the fact that styrenic compounds have a unique signal that enable easy and very precise sorting - ‘an advantage which some of the other polymers do not have’, he explained. In other words, polystyrene would appear not only to be made for recycling, but also made for sorting.
Ineos Styrolution has already invested in multiple recycling projects in Europe and in the Americas. These results, said the company, bring the development of closed-loop solutions for styrenics another step closer. Among the projects in which Ineos is investing are chemical recycling facilities based on a depolymerisation process. “These findings on polystyrene sorting makes styrenics a material of choice for a circular economy and confirms our statement that styrenics are made for recycling like no other,” said Sven Riechers, vice president, Business Management, Standard Products EMEA at Ineos Styrolution.