France-based Total has joined forces with Citeo, Saint-Gobain and the French Union of Fresh Dairy Product Manufacturers (Syndifrais) to create an industrial-scale polystyrene recycling channel in France, by 2020.

The collaboration is in line with the French Government’s Circular Economy Roadmap, as well as European Union’s plastic recycling objectives.

Within 18 months, the partners aim to work on validating the technical and cost feasibility of the recycling channel.

Total said in a statement: “All of the players in the polystyrene consumer packaging value chain are actively seeking a recycling solution that will enable the development of a circular economy for these products.

“This involves not only collecting the packaging and finding the right technical solutions for recycling it, but also identifying uses for the recycled polystyrene, all while ensuring each step is affordable.”

As part of the collaboration, Citeo will assist French fresh dairy product manufacturers in organizing the separation, sorting and preparation of post-consumer polystyrene from the country’s extended household waste sorting program.

The work is expected to result in the creation of a recycling channel for polystyrene packaging, Total said.

According to Total, about 110,000 metric tons of polystyrene packaging is estimated to put on the market each year in France.

Additionally, Syndifrais will work on making enhancements to the eco-design of packaging by leveraging the project’s technical findings, in an effort to facilitate recycling.

The sorted and prepared polystyrene will be then sent for processing at Total’s plastic production units in Carling, France, and Feluy, Belgium.

Total said that the end product would be compliant with the same specifications as virgin polystyrene, which is used for food packaging and insulation.

To support circular economy, Saint-Gobain’s subsidiary Placoplatre collects unwanted insulation made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) at construction sites and reuses it in production.

The company also aims to promote the use of raw materials featuring recycled content.

Total said that the Placoplatre’s familiarity with the insulation market will help in validating technical and commercial specifications, as well as identify new commercial markets for recycled EPS products.