One way that we are looking to maximise the lifespan of polystyrene is through the LIFE ABSolutely Circular project, funded by the EU LIFE programme.
As part of this project, we are partnering with Indaver, a European waste management company, and one of our customers from the toy, sports and leisure sector to convert post-consumer polystyrene waste into high-quality recycled styrene via depolymerisation.
Through this four-year, three-million-euro subsidised project, we plan to transfer the innovative depolymerisation technology that we are currently using for packaging toward making other recycled styrenics co-polymers, such as ABS, for use in durable applications.
A key objective is to educate and raise awareness, particularly with end-consumers. We want to show that we can use ABS containing recycled styrene to make demo-toys, and also make parents and children aware that safe and sustainable toys can be made from recycled material.
A first milestone of the project, the production of a first quantity of ABrS (i.e. ABS with recycled styrene from previous depolymerisation of polystyrene) at lab scale was achieved this year. As a next milestone, we will be building a SAN pilot plant in Antwerp, Belgium, to produce pilot-scale material for the demo-products. Indaver will build a sorting and depolymerisation plant in Antwerp, Belgium, to deliver recycled styrene.
Larger quantities of ABrS are expected to become available in 2023 with functional tests in real-life applications targeted for 2024. After this, we will upscale our approach, using recycled styrene to make products for our customers other applications and industries, and transfer and implement this know-how across all our production sites globally.
This is the overall concept of the project:
This project will cover a lot of sustainability topics from lifecycle assessments to innovative sorting and recycling technologies. As one of the highest funded LIFE projects, ABSolutely Circular shows that the EU sees high potential in our innovative technologies. The support and funding by the EU for our innovation agenda on styrenics recycling is definitely a strong counter against the negative coverage that PS is getting.
The biggest added-value is the high visibility and traction for our stakeholders: be it regulators, NGOs, media or consumers. We have received a lot of visibility through our communication on this project so far, and we hope that this project further raises awareness and acceptance of advanced recycling as well as the potential of recycled styrenics.
Learn more on the EU LIFE ABSolutely Circular project website.