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New Grade of Recycled Polystyrene Commercialized for Food Packaging

Materials supplier Trinseo and German packaging company Fernholz have collaborated on the development and commercialization of a new grade of post-consumer recycled polystyrene for form-fill-seal formulations.

Materials supplier Trinseo and German packaging company Fernholz have collaborated on the development and commercialization of a new grade of post-consumer recycled polystyrene (rPS). The form-fill-seal (FFS) formulation incorporates 40% rPS, depending on final application, thanks to Trinseo’s technology that embeds the material during polymerization by means of a solvent-based process.

“With rPS technology, we have developed a process that will help the plastics industry conserve resources and reduce oil consumption,” said Nicolas Joly, Vice President, Plastics & Feedstocks, at Trinseo. “We are very pleased to work with Fernholz as our collaboration partner to jointly respond to consumer and market expectations, offering companies a tangible solution for more sustainable packaging.”

Fernholz is working with Trinseo to incorporate rPS into sheet production, which can be used for food-packaging applications in compliance with food-safety requirements. To date, full-scale field tests for processing, migration, sensory testing, and other common parameters have revealed that rPS can be readily processed on conventional FFS machines, eliminating the need for costly equipment upgrades.

“The feedback we have received from customers so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Uwe Fernholz, Managing Director at Fernholz. “The market has been waiting for a solution like this for a long time. As a result of the positive feedback, we are very confident that this breakthrough in recycled packaging made from polystyrene will help the value chain to meet its sustainability goals.”

The new material grade is already being trialed by several European dairy companies, some of whom have launched new products using the recycled polystyrene food packaging. As one of the few materials with PCR content available in large quantities, Trinseo has the capacity to supply the dairy industry and related sectors with several thousand tons of the material. Furthermore, due to the recycling technology involved in the process, mono-material packaging, though preferable, is not mandatory. The lid or label can be safely separated as part of the recycling process, said the companies.

Fernholz operates two sites in Meinerzhagen and Schkopau, Germany, where it manufactures packaging by means of thermoforming and injection molding, and extrudes polystyrene, polypropylene, and PET sheet. The company processes approximately 2,000 tons of plastics each month and produces around 2.5 billion packaging products annually.

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