Plastic Recycling : TOMRA partners with INEOS Styrolution and EGN to recycle post-consumer polystyrene waste into food contact polystyrene

Project partners TOMRA

EGN, a subsidiary of SWK AG, will build a state-of-the-art, greenfield advanced mechanical recycling plant with a capacity to process 40kt of post-consumer polystyrene (PS) waste per year. It is expected to be the first large-scale facility of its kind. EGN will manage the sorting and washing, while INEOS Styrolution will be responsible for the "super-cleaning" purification process to meet European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) requirements for food contact applications.
The new plant will be located in Krefeld, Germany. It is expected to be operational by mid-2025, enabling INEOS Styrolution to serve customers on a commercial scale.

An agreement with TOMRA to provide sorting technology and feedstock completes the project. TOMRA Feedstock will collect post-consumer polystyrene waste from discarded food packaging and deliver it to the new site in Krefeld, Germany.

Pierre Vincent, Managing Director EGN says: “We share INEOS Styrolution’s vision of closing the loop for food-contact quality polystyrene. I expect the dairy industry to especially benefit from this new offering by allowing them to mechanically recycle from yoghurt pot to yoghurt pot creating a true circular economy for this material.”

Jürgen Priesters, Senior Vice President TOMRA Feedstock, comments: “We are proud to contribute to this first commercial-scale polystyrene mechanical recycling facility for food contact applications. Polystyrene has the right composition to be recycled mechanically for food applications. The mission of TOMRA Feedstock is to keep PS in a true circularity.”

Steve Harrington, CEO, INEOS Styrolution adds: “This is an exciting step forward for our industry. Our three companies bring complementary expertise to this project, and because of this unique collaboration, we will be able to provide customers with high-performing circular polystyrene produced at a significantly lower carbon footprint. Already, we are seeing high interest from customers and brand owners to secure long-term contracts.”

Key facts about recycling of polystyrene

The advanced mechanical recycling process takes advantage of polystyrene's inherent properties, making it the material of choice for true circularity.
Proven to be one of the most sortable plastics in the waste stream, PS is one of only two polymers that can achieve food contact qualities through mechanical recycling. The material offers infinite recyclability and retains its virgin quality property profile after many mechanical recycling cycles. Due to its properties, PS absorbs fewer contaminants in the waste stream.

It is expected that a significant percentage of recycled food packaging material will be realised in a very short time. Investment in the commercial scale-up of PS recycling will lead to a growing market share and a reduction in packaging taxes and licence fees in countries where such frameworks are in place.