The project involves validating post-consumer PS mechanical recycling as well as using processes and technologies similar to those currently used on PET recycling lines
COEXPAN, one of the world’s leaders in Form Fill Seal (FFS) food packaging systems, has successfully tested mechanically recycled polystyrene in its FFS facilities at Innotech, (Innovation and Technology Centre of COEXPAN and EMSUR, the rigid and flexible packaging divisions of Grupo Lantero).
This project is an integral part of one of the strategic aims of the value chain initiative SCS, of which Coexpan is a member. SCS innovates together with various partners across the value chain to advance the circularity of styrenic polymers. The ‘r-PS (r-PET alike’) project involves validating post-consumer PS mechanical recycling as well as using processes and technologies similar to those currently used on PET recycling lines: sorting, washing, flake sorting, super cleaning and melt-filtration.
During the trials conducted on the pilot extrusion line, two types of FFS sheets were produced: First an ABA structure in which the middle (B) layer contained encapsulated 50% recycled polystyrene/r-PS between the outer (A) layers of virgin polystyrene. The second trial was conducted on a monolayer structure with 100% post-consumer r-PS.
These materials were then tested on FFS yogurt packaging lines and analysed at the development centre laboratory where all the tests relating to quality analyses, optics, mechanical and functional properties were performed.
The results with both r-PS materials/FFS sheets show the high purity levels of the recycled material (approx. 99.9%), as well as allow very positive conclusions relating to their processability in extrusion and thermoforming.
This step is viewed as an important milestone to deliver on the unique circularity of polystyrene, reaffirming its waste-to-value potential and subsequent industrial applications.
These achievements also coincide with the recent SCS announcement and the results obtained in the challenge test, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute, leading to the first application to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the use of recycled polystyrene (r-PS) as a food contact material.
COEXPAN also participates in other collaborative projects that promote and develop the circularity of plastic materials. Among these are projects concerned with both mechanical and chemical recycling such as EPS Sure and Recyqualipso among others.
With INNOTECH as the main platform for co-innovation and the FFS technological capacities of the development centre, COEXPAN-EMSUR continue to make decisive headway in the development of new circular solutions for both rigid and flexible packaging applications based on PS, PET, PP, PLA, paper, etc.
“Making packed food to last longer and reduce its waste, is now joined by a close package reusage loop priority at Coexpan. Circularity challenged packaging industry beyond recyclability and biodegradability. Preserving and sustain global earth resources is a must! Circularity has been the enabler for a new society behaviour, through new materials generation, industrial methods and innovative technologies.”, says Dinis Mota, COEXPAN CEO.
Source: Company Press Release