Canadian Manufacturing

Total and Polystyvert to work together on polystyrene recycling

The French energy giant and a Montreal cleantech startup are working together on polystyrene recycling, using a process that dissolves the material and transforms it into an industrial product for resale

May 9, 2018  by Cleantech Canada Staff

MONTREAL—The Polymers Business unit of Total S.A. and Polystyvert, a Montreal-based clean technology startup, announced May 2 the signing of an agreement to work together on the dissolution and purification of household post-consumer polystyrene, commonly known as “styrofoam”.

Polystyvert has developed a method for recycling polystyrene that is based on a dissolution process.

The firm puts polystyrene into a concentrator and makes use of an essential oil (as a solvent) to dissolve the material. This dissolution method doesn’t alter the material’s properties, but the resulting dissolved polystyrene (a liquid) requires 10 times less space to transport than expanded polystyrene (a solid). The polystyrene is then filtered and transformed into an industrial product, which can be sold back into the market for re-use.

Polystyvert says polystyrene dissolves immediately on contact with its solvent at room temperature, without any emissions, and the process does not produce any waste, since the solvent is recycled.

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The firm also asserts that the end-product produced by the process is similar in quality to new polystyrene and competitively priced.

Speaking of the collaboration, French energy giant Total says the combination of Polystyvert’s innovative technology and its know-how in industrial-scale dissolution and polymerization technologies should generate high-quality recyclates addressing a broad range of polystyrene market requirements.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Polystyvert on this ambitious and exciting journey,” said Jean Viallefont, VP Polymers Europe, Total Refining & Chemicals. “In 2017, Total performed three successful test runs with post-consumer recyclates incorporated in virgin polymer via dissolution and polymerization. Working with Polystyvert to tackle household post-consumer waste is the next logical step for Total.”

Total says dissolution produces recyclates which can be used in a broader range of market applications than recyclates produced through mechanical recycling methods, and household plastics such as polystyrene often contain contaminants that make mechanical recycling difficult or not practical.

”We are excited to join forces with Total on the recycling of polystyrene,” said Solenne Brouard, founder and CEO, Polystyvert Inc. “Collaborating with Total on household waste will accelerate the industrial development of our technology for global markets and demonstrate its suitability to address any type of polystyrene stream.”


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