A consortium of leading French companies have joined forces to drive the French government's circular economy roadmap forward, aiming to create a “polystyrene recycling channel” in the country by 2020.
Energy giant Total SA, recycling charity Citeo, as well as multinational corporation Saint-Gobain and the French union of fresh dairy product manufacturers (Syndifrais) announced June 27 a partnership to lay the groundwork for an industrial-scale polystyrene recycling channel in France.
The companies will validate the technical and cost feasibility within 18 months.
The announcement was made at the World Materials Forum, which is being held in Nancy, France, June 27-29.
The project will involve collecting the post-consumer polystyrene packaging and finding the right technical solutions for recycling it. Additionally, it will identify uses for the recycled polystyrene in an affordable manner.
According to Total, it is estimated that 110,000 metric tons of polystyrene packaging is put on the market each year in France.
As part of the project, France's fresh dairy product manufacturers have undertaken to work through Citeo to organize the separation, sorting and preparation of “several hundred tonnes” of post-consumer polystyrene from the household waste sorting program.
Total will use the sorted and prepared polystyrene in its plastic production units in Carling, France, and Feluy, Belgium.
The energy giant inaugurated its revamped Carling — Saint-Avold petrochemical complex in eastern France last year following three years of works.
The company invested 200 million euros ($233 million) in upgrading the facilities and building new “high-value-added” units.
According to Total, the site is now a “leading polymer production site in Europe.”
The company will also use polystyrene waste from other sources, such as construction.
According to Total, the end product is expected to meet the same specifications as virgin polystyrene.
Total tested its polystyrene recycling technology last year in preliminary industrial trials, and this project will validate all the aspects of large-scale production.
The project target is to produce 4,000 tonnes of output containing at least 20 percent recycled polystyrene by 2019.
Additionally, Saint-Gobain subsidiary Placoplatre will be working on the collection and recycling of expanded polystyrene (EPS).
The company, which supplies construction materials and insulation products, will collect discarded insulation made of EPS at construction sites.
It will then reuse the material in its production.
Placoplatre is also aiming to promote the use of raw materials containing recycled content.
The company has been working with Total since 2017 on the potential recycling of EPS construction waste.