Ineos Styrolution and AmSty, two global producers of polystyrene (PS), have announced plans to construct a 100-ton-per-day facility in Channahon, Illinois, that will use Agilyx chemical recycling technology to convert discarded PS back into what the firms call “virgin-equivalent styrene monomer.”
The announcement occurs just one week after Ineos Styrolution and AmSty, along with fellow PS producer Trinseo, announced they had signed a joint development agreement to work together to explore recycling options for PS.
“Discarded single-use items like polystyrene foam cups and yogurt cups can now go right back to the same applications over and over at the same purity and performance with no need to landfill,” says Greg Fordyce, president Americas for INEOS Styrolution. “We are excited to join forces with AmSty on this ambitious project, which we expect will elevate polystyrene as a sustainable material of choice. In particular, this facility will dramatically increase recycling rates in the greater Chicago area.”
In 2018, AmSty and Agilyx formed their Regenyx joint venture to develop a similar facility in Tigard, Oregon, using Agilyx’s pyrolysis technology. The Channahon facility will be engineered on a larger scale in cooperation with Agilyx to “represent the next generation” of chemical recycling technology, the firms say.
“Polystyrene products can offer sustainability advantages where less material is required (e.g., a polystyrene foam cup is 95 percent air),” says Tim Barnette, vice president of polymers and sustainability at AmSty. “Polystyrene is particularly advantageous for [chemical] recycling because it can be ‘unzipped’ back to its original liquid form, styrene monomer. Other plastics can also be converted into useful intermediates, but polystyrene offers a truly circular solution. We view polystyrene [scrap] products as valuable feedstock for circular recycling.”
“Agilyx’s technology for converting [scrap] polystyrene is proven at scale, having been operational for several years now in Oregon,” says Tim Stedman, CEO of Agilyx. “This new facility in Illinois will be the largest of its type in the world, and will meet the growing demand from brand owners who want more recycled plastic, allowing them not only the possibility of recycling food-grade material back to the same products but also for the upcycling of lower quality non-food grade products to meet food-grade usage requirements.”
Agilyx says it also will source and supply plastic scrap feedstock for the facility through its recently formed Cyclyx subsidiary. “In addition to the technology, we have developed a feedstock management system, which is just as important as the technology in developing the supply chain for this new market,” says Joe Vaillancourt, president of Cyclyx. “The overarching goal of Cyclyx is to dramatically increase the recyclability of post-use plastics with a priority for fully circular pathways, as well as assisting in the development of new supply chains that will aggregate and preprocess larger volumes of post-use plastics than current systems.”
Engineering design for the Channahon facility is underway, with construction and commissioning as the expected next phases, according to the firms involved.