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Pilot claims food-grade packaging from recycled PS

Chemical recycling has a role to play in a circular economy but should be a last resort for plastics and other materials that cannot be recycled or reused conventionally, the European Commission has warned.

An industry wide collaboration is claiming success in a pilot project using chemically recycled polystyrene in yogurt pots. Oil giant Total, extrusion specialist Intraplás and food manufacturer Yoplait say this is the first step in an initiative to support the development of sustainable PS recycling.

Total’s role was to process feedstock derived from post-consumer mixed plastic waste at its steam cracker in Antwerp, which is covered by ISCC Plus certification. Its chemically recycled polystyrene rPS is said to exhibit virgin-like performance, enabling its use in high-end applications, including food-grade packaging. Intraplás has successfully transformed Total’s rPS into sheets which are used by Yoplait in the pilot yogurt pots.

‘This project is a great illustration of innovation and collaboration with Intraplás and Yoplait, which demonstrates our common commitment to make polystyrene circular for food-grade packaging,’ says Valérie Goff, senior vice president, polymers, at Total. ‘This marks a further milestone in addressing the challenge of the circular economy and achieving Total’s ambition of producing 30% recycled polymers by 2030.’

Anabela Ferreira, co-owner and executive member of Intraplás, insists innovation is a strategic factor for sustainable development. ‘We are very proud and satisfied for having managed to join the value chain of the food sector in this specific project which promotes the circular economy of polystyrene food packaging, guaranteeing the total safety of consumers.’

Frédéric Chapuis, sustainable packaging strategy manager at Yoplait, says the pilot demonstrates the ability to use certified circular rPS in yogurt pots. ‘It is an important milestone in our journey to engage the value chain in creating a circular economy for polystyrene in France, and for our roadmap targeting 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.’

Total recently announced France’s first chemical recycling plant, in partnership with Plastic Energy, at Grandpuits.

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