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Ineos Styrolution Details Life Cycle Assessment Analysis for Depolymerized Styrene

Results reportedly show greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of up to 50% for depolymerized styrene compared to fossil based styrene

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Ineos says that the making of styrene from post-consumer polystyrene waste shows a 37% lower CO2 footprint compared to fossil-based styrene. 

Ineos Styrolution announced first results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis for depolymerize styrene, according to the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards.

The company says that two independent research projects resulted in a consistent picture for the carbon footprint of recycled polystyrene.

  • The first, a laboratory scale project shows GHG savings of 37%

The making of styrene from post-consumer polystyrene waste reportedly shows a 37% lower CO2 footprint compared to fossil-based styrene. Additional CO2 reduction is possible by adapting the energy mix.

The LCA analysis was done in the framework of the ResolVe project, a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education, in collaboration with InVerTec, a non-profit organization associated with the University of Bayreuth. InVerTec is specialized in providing pilot plants for conceptual and lab-scale research. 

  • Upscaling and optimization of by-products allow for GHG savings up to 50%

A detailed study completed by Ineos Styrolution, a commercial recycling partner, and experts from the University of Manchester evaluated the GHG on commercial scale within a scope including polystyrene post-consumer waste collection/ sorting, pre-treatment and extrusion/ depolymerization/ distillation.

The results of the analysis show a 50% lower carbon footprint than that of traditional virgin (fossil-based) styrene monomer production.

Ineos provided these other updates:

  • Proof of concept for depolymerization on lab scale.
  • Effective depolymerization of polystyrene is tolerant to contamination by other polymers (an earlier result of the ResolVe project).
  • Polystyrene “proven to be one of the best sortable plastics” in the waste stream.
  • Plans for first depolymerisation plants in Europe and in the Americas.

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