Unlocking polystyrene circularity – Polystyrene is 100% recyclable!

We are establishing polystyrene’s place in the circular economy as a 100% recyclable plastic without downcycling

Polystyrene is a versatile material used in several applications for almost every industry sector for 80 years. Despite being considered a single-use plastic, Trinseo is unlocking polystyrene circularity through game-changing recycling technologies and methods, giving polystyrene infinite recyclability.

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Can you recycle polystyrene?

Yes. A chemical recycling process known as depolymerization converts waste polystyrene back into the original monomer so it can be re-made into pellets and back into new materials, with full circularity.

What are the routes for polystyrene recycling?

We are exploring an optimized mechanical recycling process with a super-clean process for high quality recycled content suitable for food contact. We are also working on depolymerization and dissolution technology.

How does polystyrene recycling work?

Chemical recycling through dissolution dissolves polymer waste into a solvent, filters and purifies it for re-use. Chemical recycling through depolymerization returns waste material back into its monomer state for reuse back into the value chain. Mechanical recycling recovers polystyrene through grinding, washing, separating, drying, re-granulating and compounding it. Gasification or pyrolysis heats polystyrene waste and returns it to the atmosphere whilst generating heat. 

Does this mean there is no need for a ban on polystyrene?

There is no alternative to polystyrene. It is highly recyclable with unique potential for closed-loop recycling, making a ban unnecessary.

When will recycled polystyrene be available to purchase?

Trinseo is working on building a first-of-kind chemical recycling plant in Europe as part of a joint industry initiative. This will enable us, in time, to successfully pre-treat and optimize recycling processes to make recycled polystyrene available. At the same time, we are building the market for recycled polystyrene. 

A sustainable and versatile plastic, polystyrene is uniquely suited for infinite recycling through depolymerization

  • Circular

    Polystyrene depolymerizes at 400-450ºC into a monomer
  • Pure

    Styrene monomer can be purified and re-used as a building block for food contact polystyrene with the same properties and purity as virgin polystyrene.
  • Valuable

    A direct styrene yield of -65% is expected through depolymerization
  • Nachhaltig

    Polystyrene has a low diffusion coefficient making it difficult for contaminants to diffuse, ensuring quality.
  • Qualität

    Durch Zusammenarbeit mit unseren Kunden schaffen wir dank unserer Technologien, Innovationen und Lösungen Mehrwert.

A recyclable plastic essential for almost every industry

Baubranche Polystyrene is used for roofing, plumbing and insulation in the building industry
Unterhaltungselektronik Polystyrene is used for the housings and other parts for televisions, computers and more
Konsumgüter Lightweight, insulating and structurally strong, polystyrene is present in most consumer goods
Haushaltsgeräte Inert, cost-effective and long-lasting, polystyrene is used to produce refrigerators, ovens, air conditioners and appliances around the home
Medizin Polystyrene is widely used in the medical industry such as for diagnostic components, test tubes, tissue culture trays and more
Verpackung A lightweight, shatterproof plastic, polystyrene packaging remains in high demand
Trinseo’s STYRON™ Polystyrene products have been the first choice for a diverse range of applications for 80 years.

Circular thinking – Creating more sustainable plastics

To unlock full circularity of polystyrene requires more than research and innovation - it requires a collaborative approach across the entire value chain and a different way of thinking about plastics. To support polystyrene circularity, Trinseo is engaged in the following partnerships:

Styrenics Circular Solutions

As a founding member of the Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS) consortium, we work closely with INEOS Styrolution, Total, Versalis (Eni) and Repsol to increase the circularity of styrenic polymers. SCS is heavily focused on depolymerization and dissolution to convert styrene-based products back into virgin material for high-quality applications. In addition, SCS works with waste collection and sorting partners to build the market for recycled polystyrene.  

Join our network of circular thinkers

Together we can unlock the true circularity of polystyrene and cement its place in the circular economy as an infinitely recyclable material, suitable for almost every application.

Whether you're looking for information on polystyrene recycling, are keen to know more about post recycled consumer polystyrene contentor want to work with us on a sustainability project, you can get hold of our team by entering your details in the form below. A member of our team will be in contact to discuss your requirements.