Enabling a circular economy for styrenics

Enabling a circular economy for styrenics

We strive to provide sustainable solutions to our customers and end-consumers by taking a responsible approach to our product portfolio across the entire value chain.

Our approach

Our performance

Our sustainable products

Chemical recycling

Mechanical recycling

Using renewable resources

Our approach

We take a holistic approach looking at our entire value chain – from procurement, development and production to transport and sales, through integration into customer processes to final intended use. Together with customers and the scientific community, we engage in collaborative innovation of cutting-edge sustainable products. By driving product stewardship and quality management, we ensure compliance with product regulations and deliver safe, best-quality and high-performance products to our customers. Together with associations and our business partners, we strive to achieve high and well-acknowledged sustainability standards in the styrenics industry.

Instead of disposing polystyrene and other plastics products after a single use, we aim to close the loop to contribute to a circular economy: by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, followed by recovering and recycling products and materials at the end of their life cycle. Being part of a circular economy will be a transformative way of doing business and we want to play an active role in its development. This is why we are pursuing solutions, such as depolymerisation, to successfully achieve circularity of our products.

Contributing to a circular economy for styrenics

Our performance

Our sustainable products

Our styrenic products contribute to every facet of our daily lives due to their intrinsic and versatile properties. Styrenics are durable and weather-resistant, making them a longer-lasting alternative to other materials. They also have a low density and a high stiffness compared to other engineering plastics, which allows the manufacture of lightweight applications with reduced transportation costs and fuel emissions.

When it comes to processing, styrenics offer even more benefits in terms of sustainability. Due to their amorphous character, styrenics consume less energy during processing and cooling compared to engineering plastics, such as polyamides or polyesters. Not only does this result in cost savings for our customers, it also significantly reduces the use of process additives. Therefore, styrenics are often the material of choice across a broad range of industries and applications.

Here are some examples of our products:

Chemical recycling

We believe that chemical recycling has the potential to provide the necessary boost to reach the recycling quota for polystyrene, deliver economy of scale, and offer a holistic solution across the value chain.

INEOS Styrolution is therefore leading the way in the development of polystyrene chemical recycling, a process of chemically depolymerising plastic waste back to its monomer building blocks for use in future polymerisation processing. The styrene monomer produced from chemical recycling is virtually identical to virgin styrene monomer produced by fossil fuels.

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We have entered into cooperations with several leading-edge technology companies including Agilyx, Pyrowave, GreenMantra and Indaver, to build a circular economy for polystyrene that capitalises on the value inherent in polystyrene waste and eliminates this value from being incinerated or ending up in landfill.

Click here for more information on our actions on chemical recycling.

Mechanical recycling

Mechanical recycling is a method by which plastic waste is physically processed back into pellets, without changing the basic structure of the material. With the know-how from INEOS Styrolution, this method can generate new polymer blends or grades that come very close to virgin polymer performance.

Since early 2018, INEOS Styrolution has been exploring this option with the objective to develop a lean portfolio of basic grades for our standard applications. After undergoing various cycles of recipe development, we have just compounded the first tonne of mechanically recycled material with extremely commercially interesting product properties. Mechanical recycling is the best available and proven technology to reuse end-of-life plastic waste on a short to medium term, and is currently the most feasible option for some of our polymer grades such as ABS.

We have identified a list of companies in the plastics waste value chain and are finalising discussions with the most capable of them to secure highest-quality supply for our ABS recycling grades. Our mechanically recycled ABS product Terluran® ECO is now available with up to 70% recycled content from post-consumer waste. Click here for more information on Terluran® ECO.

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Using renewable resources

As part of our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and save valuable resources, both for our company as well as for our customers, we are working on offering the integration of renewable feedstock as a replacement for fossil fuel in upstream existing petrochemical installations.

We will only source feedstock that does not compete with food and complies with the highest sustainability certification criteria. As the renewable feedstock gets mixed with fossil feedstock during the production process, we cannot guarantee a dedicated concentration of bio-based material in the end-product. Therefore, we will attribute an equivalent amount of the renewable feedstock to the end-product. This will be done using internationally accepted certification schemes and will be audited by a third-party provider.

This approach allows us to create more sustainable supply chains, while retaining our already optimised and highly efficient infrastructure and processes, and is our way to contribute to a bio-economy in addition to all our other efforts on circularity.

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The use of bio-attributed styrene offers us at least 50% lower greenhouse gas footprint when compared to styrene produced by fossil fuel. For our customers, this approach presents a “drop-in” solution with identical product quality and properties and therefore does not require product development or new registration and regulatory approvals.

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The attribution approach is aimed as our short-term offering to customers to contribute to sustainability in addition to our recycled products. This approach will be key for chemical recycling as well: by allocating chemically recycled materials into petrochemical installations as a raw material. Through an extensive collaboration along the value chain, we believe this can significantly contribute to a lower greenhouse gas footprint and encourage the use of renewables.

Click here to read more about how we enable a circular economy for styrenics.