Evere, 7 November 2023. As of mid-2024, yoghurt pots and foam trays from the blue bag are to undergo chemical recycling in the port of Antwerp. This is a European first, because it means that polystyrene (PS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) can be processed to produce secondary raw materials which can be re-used to make new packaging – including for food. This project owes its existence to the construction of a new chemical recycling facility in the port of Antwerp by Indaver, underpinned by Fost Plus’ commitment to supply PS and XPS from the PMD. Colruyt Lowest Prices has already made its XPS trays used to package fresh meat recyclable and ultimately aims to have fully circular meat trays.
Fost Plus announces the long-term cooperation with Indaver’s Plastics2Chemicals demonstration plant for the chemical recycling of polystyrene from household packaging waste. As of 2024, this new facility will process up to 26,000 tonnes of material using de-polymerisation technology to produce secondary raw materials. Recycled styrene, the end product, will have the same properties as new material, so that it can be re-used to make yoghurt pots and meat and fish trays, as well as other (X)PS packaging.
Erik Moerman, Director Sales and Development at Indaver: “Just like certain other plastics, PS has the potential to be used as a circular polymer. The new chemical recycling plant in the port of Antwerp in combination with the pretreatment facility that we are currently building on our Willebroek site mean that we can process PS and XPS back to monomers. That is unique in Europe.”
Wim Geens, Managing Director of Fost Plus: “Our goal has always been to do as much plastic recycling as possible here in Belgium. For polystyrene, that was not yet the case because the proportion in the blue bag is relatively small. As of 2024, 3,000 tonnes of PS from the five PMD sorting centres will be chemically recycled. It’s a Belgian circular story that we can be rightly proud of.”
Potential for circular foam trays
Polystyrene is 1 of 16 material streams in the blue bag. Sorting centers sort both PS and XPS packaging in that fraction for mechanical recycling. But specifically the recycling of the XPS packaging comes up against a lot of obstacles. Foam trays for fresh meat or fresh fish are among the packaging that still most frequently gives rise to sorting doubts. And yet they quite simply belong in the blue bag. But even if they were put there, they tended to fall out of the chain because of their colour. Packaging that contains so-called carbon black cannot be detected by the infrared cameras in the sorting facilities. So unfortunately, these black trays ended up in the residual fraction. Colruyt Group puts about 880 tonnes of XPS packaging on the market every year. From now on, this is dark grey, rather than black, which means that it can be sorted and recycled.
Pascal Dekelver, meat division manager at Colruyt Group: “XPS is a useful packaging material. It has good mechanical properties (strong and stackable) and outstanding absorption capacity, plus excellent insulating capacity, so the fresh meat products are less susceptible to temperature fluctuations. To increase the recycling level, we have changed all our black trays to grey. The next step is to add recycled material. So step by step, we continue to work on making our packaging more sustainable.”
Next to PS, Plastics2Chemicals will also recycle part of the polyolefin fraction, including 1,000 tonnes of foils from the blue bag. That is for example the wrapper of multipacks or bags such as crisp bags.
The current proposal in the European Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation states that all plastic packaging should contain 10% recycled material by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that is necessary to protect the environment and our natural resources. Although the recycled PS from traditional mechanical recycling can be used to make new products or non-food packaging without any problem, it is not authorised for food-safe applications. The new cooperation opens the way to circular trays and pots.
- Plastics2Chemicals has an input capacity of 26,000 tonnes of PS (polystyrene) and PO (polyolefin) and is to start up in mid-2024, with a forecast industrial scale-up to 65,000 tonnes (2027), making it Europe’s largest de-polymerisation recycling plant.
- The high-tech recycling plant in the port of Antwerp represents an investment of EUR 100 million and 60 new jobs. The pretreatment facility in Willebroek is costing EUR 30 million to build and is to provide 25 new jobs.
- In due course, 3,000 tonnes of PS and 1,000 tonnes of PO from the blue bag will be recycled.
- Colruyt Group is switching 880 tonnes of black XPS packaging to improve its sortability and recyclability.
- Almost one Belgian in five does not put plastic (foam) trays in with the PMD (18%, Fost Plus survey 2022, N = 2,500).
- Per tonne of PS: CO2 saving of 3,500 kg compared with valorisation.
About Fost Plus
Fost Plus is a non-profit organisation responsible for the selective collection, sorting and recycling of household packaging waste in Belgium. Through organisation, financing and communication, we implement the circular packaging economy in practical terms. We recycle 95% of the household packaging on the market every year, thanks to the efficient collection of glass, paper-cardboard and PMD.
Packaging management has evolved firmly in the direction of sustainable materials management. To this end, we work closely with all parties concerned: companies, federations, authorities, intermunicipal organisations, collection, sorting and recycling partners and the general public. Fost Plus was established in 1994 under the impetus of trade and industry and operates in the three regions. By participating in the Fost Plus collective system, packaging companies contribute to achieving the ambitious Belgian and European recycling objectives. www.fostplus.be
Valerie Bruyninckx, PR & Corporate Communication Manager
email@example.com | 0471 75 83 12
Indaver is an international company that specialises in sustainable waste management and the recovery of materials and energy. Using advanced technologies and innovative solutions, Indaver contributes to the transition to a circular economy. The company offers high-quality, sustainable and cost-effective waste management solutions for large-scale industry, public authorities and waste collection companies. Indaver currently has facilities and activities in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Portugal. In 2022, Indaver recorded a turnover of EUR 755 million. The Indaver Group employs approximately 2,000 staff. www.indaver.com or www.indaver.com/plasticstochemicals
Inge Baertsoen, Corporate Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 0497 97 05 70
About Colruyt Group
Colruyt Group distributes food and non-food products in Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The group has over 700 of its own stores and approximately 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium, these include Colruyt Lowest Prices, Okay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby, Bike Republic, Zeb, PointCarré, The Fashion Store and the affiliated stores Spar and PointCarré. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores and DATS 24 filling stations, there are also Coccinelle, Coccimarket, Panier Sympa and PointCarré affiliated stores. Jims operates fitness clubs in Belgium and Luxembourg. Newpharma is Colruyt Group’s Belgian online pharmacy. Solucious and Culinoa supply food service and retail products to professional customers in Belgium (hospitals, SMEs, the hospitality sector, etc.). Colruyt Group’s activities also include print and document management solutions (Symeta Hybrid) and, until June 2023, DATS 24 energy supplies in Belgium (fuel, natural gas and green energy). The group has over 33,000 employees and in 2022/23 recorded a turnover of EUR 10.8 billion. Etn. Fr. Colruyt NV is listed on Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN No BE0974256852.
Hanne Poppe, press officer
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