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Tomra Reports Strong Polystyrene Sorting Results

Tomra technologies sort post-consumer polystyrene waste content with final product purity higher than 99.9%.

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Tomra Group of Norway recently completed tests on the sortation of polystyrene (PS). With Tomra’s near-infrared (NIR) sensor technology, post-consumer plastic waste was sorted in a multi-step process including 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%.

Jürgen Priesters, SVP, Circular Economy at Tomra, sees one reason for the good results is certain properties of the material: “Styrenic compounds have a unique signal that enable easy and very precise sorting, an advantage which some of the other polymers do not have.”

Tomra’s findings prove that today’s sorting technologies achieve a purity level beyond what is required to successfully recycle polystyrene through both mechanical as well as advanced recycling processes. Along with Ineos Styrolution’s investments in multiple recycling projects, this takes the company another step closer to developing closed-loop solutions for styrenics.

Tomra recently joined the Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), the value chain initiative to increase the circularity of styrenic polymer. 

Ineos Styrolution continues along its path to produce recycled ABS and chemically recycled polystyrene at commercial scale. The company is investing in multiple projects in Europe and in the Americas to set up recycling facilities based on the depolymerisation process.

For instance, Ineos and Agilyx out of Oregon are planning to build a PS chemical recycling facility in Channahon, Illinois. The facility will be capable of processing up to 100 tons per day of post-consumer polystyrene and converting it into a styrene product that will go into the manufacturing of new polystyrene products. 

“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,” says Sven Riechers, Vice President, Business Management, Standard Products EMEA at Ineos Styrolution.

recycling of PS graphic

Showcasing a closed-loop solution for styrenics.

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