France: Circular Economy Roadmap Conglomerate to Create Polystyrene Recycling Channel

Editor: Alexander Stark

Citeo, Total, Saint-Gobain and the French Union of Fresh Dairy Product Manufacturers (Syndifrais) are joining forces to help lay the groundwork for an industrial-scale polystyrene recycling channel in France.

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Citeo, Total, Saint-Gobain and Syndifrais join jorces to create a polystyrene recycling channel in France by 2020.
Citeo, Total, Saint-Gobain and Syndifrais join jorces to create a polystyrene recycling channel in France by 2020.
(Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

Paris/France — The project is part of the voluntary commitments for the French government’s Circular Economy Roadmap and in line with French and European Union objectives in the area of plastic recycling. First of all the companies will validate its technical and cost feasibility within 18 months. The announcement was made at the World Materials Forum, which is being held in Nancy, France from June 27 to 29.

The players in the polystyrene consumer packaging value chain are actively seeking a recycling solution that will enable the development of a circular economy for these products. This involves not only collecting the packaging and finding the right technical solutions for recycling it, but also identifying uses for the recycled polystyrene, all while ensuring each step is affordable. It is estimated that 110,000 metric tons of polystyrene packaging is put on the market each year in France.

Developing a Collection System

France’s fresh dairy product manufacturers have undertaken to organize, via Citeo, the separation, sorting and preparation of several hundred tons of post-consumer polystyrene from France's extended household waste sorting program. Syndifrais, alongside Citeo, will therefore contribute to the emergence of a recycling channel for polystyrene packaging.

Syndifrais will also use the project's technical findings to improve the eco-design of packaging so it will be easier to recycle.

Technology for Recycling Polystyrene

Total will use the sorted and prepared polystyrene in its plastic production units in Carling, France and Feluy, Belgium. Polystyrene waste from other sources, such as construction, will also be used. The end product will be expected to meet the same specifications as virgin polystyrene.

The oil company tested its polystyrene recycling technology last year in preliminary industrial trials. The objective now will be to validate all the aspects of large-scale production. A target has been set of 4,000 tons of output containing at least 20 % recycled polystyrene for 2019. The company will also make its dedicated research and development resources available for the project.

Uses for the Recycled Polystyrene

Saint-Gobain is involved in initiatives related to the circular economy. Its subsidiary Placoplatre collects discarded insulation made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) at construction sites, which it reuses in its production. To go to the next level, Placoplatre is also aiming to promote the use of raw materials containing recycled content. The company has been working with Total since 2017 to share its knowledge of sources of EPS construction waste that could potentially be recycled and to evaluate the performance of recycled polystyrene for the insulation market. Its familiarity with this market will help to validate the necessary technical and commercial specifications and find new commercial markets for recycled EPS products.

Other users and outlets are also under consideration and will join the project at the appropriate time.