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September 13, 2021

Watch the Video: Food Compliant Recycled Polystyrene: A Yoplait Case Study

Click below to watch an interview facilitated by Tim Sykes, Brand Director, Packaging Europe. The interview panel includes Julien Renvoise, Global Circularity Manager Plastics & Feedstocks, Trinseo, Frédéric Chapuis, Packaging Technology Lead at General Mills which is the owner of the Yoplait yogurt brand, and Ana Carneiro, COO and Sustainability Manager at Intraplás. A full transcript of the interview can be found below the video.

video preview

Tim (00:00):

Welcome to today's Sustainable Packaging Summit interactive Zoom session in which we'll be talking about a new milestone for the circular economy -- the introduction of food-grade recycled content in Yoplait yogurt pots in the French market. We'll be sharing the inside story behind this and exploring the wider implications during the course of today's session. I'm delighted to welcome three speakers who are representing the key collaborators on this project. First of all, welcome to Frédéric Chapuis, Packaging Technology Lead at General Mills which is the owner of the Yoplait yogurt brand. Secondly, Ana Carneiro, COO and Sustainability Manager at Intraplás. This is the packaging converter. Last but not least, Julien Renvoise, Circularity Manager at Trinseo, the material supplier in this collaboration.

Tim (00:58):

Before I get down to the discussion, I'd like to remind everyone one more time that this is an interactive session and we'll try to answer as many questions as we can at the end of the discussion so please share those with the panelists via the Zoom Chat. Let's get down to talking about this very interesting new benchmark for the circular economy. Julien, I'd like to start by asking you to introduce the project. Why was it necessary and what was the relationship between the three organizations in the project represented here today?

Julien (01:37):

Thank you Tim for the introduction. Actually, there is a magic cure that is becoming predominant in the circular field, which is collaboration. If one wants to be successful on this circular journey, you will need the support of partners all along the value chain-- not just talking with customers, but far beyond that. And the three companies we've got here --Trinseo as a sustainable resin supplier, Intraplás, the leading packaging convertor, and Yoplait, a leading dairy packaging brand owner -- are fully convinced of the need for this collaboration. And we decided to join together our efforts to develop the first yogurt cup made with a food-approved recycled polystyrene that was launched in the French supermarket last May, 2021. Through these concerted efforts, we are looking for one obviously to provide the consumers with a truly sustainable dairy packaging option.

Tim (02:43):

Thank you, Julien. Ana, welcome to today's discussion. Could you fill me in some more about the history of the collaboration and how did Intraplás get involved as the converter? How long have the three partners been working together on this?

Ana (03:01):

Thank you Tim. Thank you all. Intraplás is a converter that has been producing packaging for over 50 years. As converters, we are in the middle of the supply chain and we have always made this bridge with our polymer supplier and our customers. Our partnership with Yoplait and Trinseo has been in place for over two decades. Our vision has always been to provide eco-design packaging solutions and, being in the middle of the value chain, we try to pass on to the market the best and most efficient packaging solutions -- in this case, food packaging.

Tim (03:44):

Thank you very much Ana. Frédéric, turning to you. In a moment I'd like to start going into the details of this project but I'd like to first of all take a step back and consider the wider context and the why before we talk about the how. How long has the industry as a whole been working on this challenge of bringing recyclability to this market segment?

Frédéric (04:13):

First, before to talk about the industry, for Yoplait, more than two years ago we have set the ambition to have all our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025 in Europe. We have developed for that some roadmap for all our product including for the polystyrene yogurt pot. We are really started in 2019. We are started to work with different partners on the recyclability of the polystyrene especially with Citeo and Syndifrais in France, and this is some of the people should know about this project. Early 2020, we have noticed that there were lots of ongoing initiatives but we need to have all the key stakeholders in the discussion including the recycler and the converter. This resulted to the successful collaboration between with Trinseo and Intraplás. Also, to the question of this industry Consortium Polystyrene25, PS25 led by Citeo in France.

Tim (05:19):

Thank you. Julien, is there anything you'd like to add the onset of this collaboration before we start to move on and talk about the details of what we've achieved together?

Julien (05:30):

Yeah. I would probably be a little bit blunt and provocative, but I would like probably to acknowledge that the PS industry probably has been a little bit lagging behind when it was about putting the right level of attention on the recycling topic, that's acknowledged. The good news because there is a good news is that PS is a quite unique material in simplicity. And thanks to that simple chemistry, actually, we can think about many ways of approaching the recycling topics for different technologies -- chemical recycling, mechanical recycling, dissolution. That is allowed by the unique features of polystyrene. So we are catching up. We're catching up very fast. This launch which happened in May is the first stone of long series of achievement that will come in the next months to come. The ideal objective again is to prove that polystyrene is one of the best circular pretender to support the circular economy. We were late, we are catching up, and we're catching up strongly.

Tim (06:47):

Okay, thank you. Frédéric, before we get into the details of the project, I'm curious as to your view as a brand owner why you want to continue to use polystyrene and why do you see that as such a useful solution for the yogurts application when perhaps there are other materials that didn't have quite so far to catch up, building on what Julien said?

Frédéric (07:16):

Yep. It's a good point. In France today, more than 70% of the yogurt pot are using polystyrene. There are good reason for that. First is well protect our product, which is of course very important for us. Second point is that, it is convenient for our consumer. It can be easily and safely separated. This is what we call the snapability of the polystyrene that we know, the “clack” when you want to separate the two parts. So this is very important, also, the convenience for our consumer. Regarding environmental aspect, thanks to all the improvement that has been made over the years, today form fill seal polystyrene yogurt pot is very light and has the lower carbon footprint compared to alternative solution for yogurt. At Yoplait, we believe in polystyrene, and this is why this project was so important for us.

Tim (08:11):

Thank you, Frédéric. Let's focus on the collaboration then between Trinseo, Intraplás and Yoplait. Can you tell us what have been the key points in this collaboration? What is the project involved?

Frédéric (08:32):

In this project, it was of course very important to be able to demonstrate that the circularity of the polystyrene was feasible. Of course, we had this collaboration together with Intraplás and Trinseo. I will let, of course let them describe how they have collaborated on this initiative. From our side, the first things that we did is of course initial technical validation, and you see a picture on the screen. It was very important to see how recycled polystyrene will run on our line. And we got very quickly the confirmation that what we have been said that there is no impact on our line, whatever, in term of performance, in term of settings, and of course no impact on the product.

Frédéric (09:26):

Then we have been able to focus on the certification of our factory. The first yogurt that has been launched as mentioned by Julien in May is currently produced in one of our factory in France -- in Le Mans. We have been able to focus on the certification of the factory using the ISSC Plus referential. The objective is of course to be able to demonstrate that we are using certified recycled content. By the way, I'm sure that Trinseo and Intraplás will mention also this is that, all the value chain needs to be certified meaning that Trinseo went through also this certification and also Intraplás. For the launch, we have decided to choose one of our key brands. This is the market pioneer, Yoplait. Also, a major product innovation that Yoplait wanted to launch on the market, and we wanted to combine that with the first yogurt pot containing certified recycled polystyrene on the French market. Again, this is a key milestone regarding the circularity of the polystyrene, and also to support the development of the polystyrene recycling in France.

Tim (10:40):

Thank you Frédéric. Can you tell me what's the percentage of recycled contents in these yogurt cups that you've launched?

Frédéric (10:49):

For this specific launch, we have decided to target 50%. We have 50% of certified recycled polystyrene. Technically we could go up to 100% already now. It's technically feasible. There is no challenge for that. The limitation comes from, of course, the industrial capacity. Today we have to build both the collection and also other recycling capabilities so it's not something that we could today put 100% in all our portfolio. Also, we have decided to absorb the oncost link to the cost of the recycle polystyrene which is higher than the virgin one, and not to charge that to our consumer. Of course, it is a constraint for us and for the business. This is why we have decided to put 50% for the time being. And in the future, of course, it will be great to have a close loop yogurt pot to pot and to be able to use only recycled polystyrene indefinitely.

Tim (11:54):

Thank you Frédéric. Julien, can you explain to us how the polystyrene with recycled content was produced?

Julien (12:03):

Yeah, sure. We're trying to keep things very simple and I would probably use the chart that is appearing on the screen. So, yeah, starting from the top right, I will start with the production of the virgin polystyrene granulates which basically are produced at the premises. These granulates are sent to our converter, Intraplás to produce PS roll. These PS roll are sent to brand owners to some form yogurt cup fill and seal to be delivered to the retailer, and then to the end consumer. When consumed, the end customer dispose of the yogurt cup, best case scenario in the yellow bin or the blue bags depending of the country, which is what we call the selective collection. These collected wastes are sent to the sorting center where you extract the polymers targeted. Note that PS is very easily spotted actually by infrared equipment thus it's easily sorted, thanks notably to its chemistry.

Julien (13:16):

You can find some interesting articles from Tomra notably flagging and siting this easiness of sorting for the polystyrene. This polystyrene waste then will be fed to the depolymerization plant, the chemical recycling plant, which will convert the PS waste back to its building block, styrene. We add the use of temperature. Now we are using around 400 to 550 C. This recycled styrene is then purified in a typical distillation unit, blended with virgin styrene, and then the loop is closed. And you start again and again, the process by producing a virgin-like polystyrene based now on this recycled styrene. What I would like to probably add quite important is actually polystyrene is probably one of the best polymer when it comes to chemical recycling because of the simplicity of its structure. You can have the shortest loop which we call depolymerization, versus feedstock cracking because the polymer that it could go to the monomer state, it's not passing for fuel.

Julien (14:36):

Obviously, it's quite positive when it comes to LCA, life cycle analysis. Two other things that I would like to mention. The resulting monomer is a liquid which makes it very easy to purifying it which is not the case with solid which is more complex, more costly to get refined. And on top something very important also when it comes to polystyrene and the arbitrage between polymers is the density. PS density slightly above one which make polystyrene less prone to be contaminated in basically that contaminates them not to enter into its matrix so it makes easier for the recycling steps. That is really benefits which are specific really to the features of this material polystyrene.

Tim (15:27):

Thank you, Julien. Can you clarify where the material is coming from? What is the source of the, or the primary source of the PS waste stream that you're using for this?

Julien (15:41):

Yeah, so we are really talking about post-consumer waste with different streams. We can talk obviously about the yogurt cups. We can talk about PS packaging, trays, about clothes hangers. As Frédéric mentioned, those collection streams are, and also development depending of the countries that you are considering. If you take the example of France for example, we know that by 2023 the law will basically request to have the food territory covered with the selective collection. We'll be able to manage to collect more plastics/polystyrene, including the  famous yogurt cup. At the end what counts which is also sort of critical is the gesture that the end consumer will do. When throwing the famous yogurt cup, obviously he needs to throw it in the right bin which is the selective collection bin, the yellow bin in France.

Tim (16:45):

Thank you. We've covered the supply of recycled polystyrene. I think we should now move on to talk about the conversion into packaging. Ana, I'd like to ask you, maybe you could talk us through the next step of the process and how this recycled PS gets formed into yogurt cups. First of all, are there any differences between recycled and virgin polystyrene when it comes to processing?

Ana (17:14):

To better understand our process, the certified rPS polymers that Julien mentioned it is received in pellet form and is directly stored in our silos, which feed the extrusion lines producing the foiling cords that arrive at Yoplait and ready to use directly in the FFS machine production line. Depending on the percentage of rPS that Yoplait wishes, in this case 50% for example, to be incorporated into the packaging, we determine the quantity of rPS and the last quantity is the virgin polymer. The quantity of rPS is required into each lot of our produce. The pellets box and foil are stamped with the respective ISCC Plus declaration because we are certified to the ISCC declaration, all supply chain well then these. This declaration is to validate the traceability of each lot and the percentage of certified sequence, the rPS incorporated in the lot. Prior to sending the foil to Yoplait, Intraplás developed the receipt and internally approves the product validating the results of the manufacturing process and the functional characteristics of the product by companies and with the standards that referencing these guys 100 vision polymers.

Tim (19:01):

Thank you. The processing and the quality of the output are both the same or similar to a virgin material, yeah?

Ana (19:13):

Yes, exactly. Then Frédéric said there is no change in the full extrusion process. As we were able to validate in our R&D center, since we have the FFS line machine like Yoplait, we validated that the thermoformability and is no change too. There was no need to change parameters and any stage of production and the mechanical characteristics of the yogurt cups remain as the standard. Important to said, we also validate the food safety requirements at global and specific migration level in an accredited external laboratory and the results were compliant and identical to the virgin polymer.

Tim (20:03):

Okay, thank you very much Ana. Julien, can I ask you, what are the impacts of replacing virgin PS with recycled?

Julien (20:14):

Yeah, well, basically we are addressing a free ideal purpose that we've got whole, I guess in this audience when it comes to work. Sustainability role is the first to preserve the natural resources by limiting the use of fossil-based material, which are non-renewable material replaced by the recycled material, that's one. The second is about the idea is that if you are developing the recycling, then you tend to limit the probability of plastic waste to end up in our environment or being landfilled or being incinerated. The last one is about reducing the general carbon footprint by pushing further the recyclability of the material, and obviously having a positive impact on the climate change challenge.

Julien (21:12):

Related to that, I can also briefly mention that there is a consortium, the voice of PS recycling actually called SCS, Styrenics Circular Solution, which made a public webinar last month, which I think is still probably publicly available. They have communicated on three life cycle analysis for three different technologies for polystyrene, depolymerization, dissolution and the so-called what we call supercleanmechanical recycling, and the results are very positive. We're talking from 75% to 80% CO2 reduction versus the virgin production, including as well, the end-of-life, which is incineration. That complements very nicely the PS packaging that we have been able to develop the last two years, showing again that PS is a very strong pretender when it comes to the circularity topic.

Tim (22:16):

Thank you. Frédéric, obviously Julien has just set out the sustainability benefits of recycled PS. Could you put those in the context of your brand owner perspective? How do you see those benefits from the point of view of your position in the value chain?

Frédéric (22:37):

Yeah, well summarize all the key benefits for the product. Of course, for the brand owners as mentioned, we have the objective to reduce our environmental impact especially coming from packaging. With the recycling of polystyrene, we can continue to use polystyrene for our yogurt pot, which is as mentioned, a good material for the yogurt pot. That has already a very low impact compared to some other packaging solution. The fact to be able to add recycled polystyrene, and as mentioned by Julien, we will even further reduce the LCA and the carbon footprint, which is great. This important for us of course, and it is also very important for our consumer.

Tim (23:21):

Thank you. Another dimension of this is, from my point of view, the importance of transparency across the value chain. We have brand owners who have very public objectives and goals in terms of circular economy pledges, et cetera, and needs to be held to account for this. Julien, I'm interested in the extent and how you're able to keep track of the amounts of recycled contents that ends up in any finished product.

Julien (23:58):

In case of chemical recycling, we will have to consider a peculiar concept which is called the mass balance approach for the moment, that's unavoidable. I will try to explicit what is a mass balance concept. It's not an easy concept to grasp. I will try to do my best with the time allowed to explicit this concept. Let me say that in an ideal world, you would like to keep separating the sustainable feedstock stream from the fossil-based streams. Yeah, the world is not ideal and for the moment we do not have enough sustainable material available to dedicate all along the value chains the assets. So what we do is we blend the sustainable material with the fossil-based material in a continuous process, all along the value chain. Since this process continues, we lose precise physical tracking of the proportion between the two product, sustainable product and the fossil-based feedstocks at the outlet of the assets.

Julien (25:10):

To address this challenge and still continue to support the growth of a circular economy, the industry is using a smart concept which is called mass balance, which is allowing what? Well, it allows to allocate to the final product at the end of the chain, the quantity of recycled or sustainable content which has entered the value chain. Basically, the mass balance approach, to try to define it simply, is a tracking and a bookkeeping methodology which enables companies to track the replacement of fossil-based material by more sustainable ones. This is supportive of a more circular economy. To take an easy analogy, you can think of it we as the prism of green electricity, which basically allows consumers to buy green electricity from green electricity suppliers, energy coming from renewable resources like solar or wind.

Julien (26:22):

When you are switching on and getting access to electricity, at the moment you are using the electricity, you don't know if it's coming from a solar panel, a wind field, or nuclear plants or coal plants. Yet you are buying certified electricity from a supplier or a green supplier which has in his mix renewable resources type of energy. So you are contributing for higher inclusion of these renewable energy in the mix. This is exactly the same principle in our case. Probably worth also to mention that this concept is not just a nice trick or any attempt to greenwash the market. This is a concept which is widely supported by even renowned NGOs like the Ellen MacArthur one, which has generated very nice paper by the way, which I highly encourage you to read, which explicit very nicely what the mass balance concept is about if I did not manage to explicit it during these last two minutes.

Tim (27:32):

Thank you Julien. We can share the link to that paper actually. I'll put it on the event page on the Sustainable Packaging Summit platform so it doesn't get lost after we close this Zoom meeting. So if anyone wants to check that out I will share that link later. Also, incidentally I will share the LinkedIn pages for our three speakers today in case any of you want to follow up and meet them and talk to them afterwards on the same event page on the Sustainable Packaging Summit platform. Frédéric, I'm interested in another context here which is food contact. Obviously this is a highly regulated area and it's traditionally been quite a roadblock in our sense of the possibilities for circular economy with plastics. Could you tell us a little bit about the requirements that you have to face in this context and how you've been able to satisfy those regulatory demands?

Frédéric (28:42):

Yes, for sure yes. All the packaging that we are using and are in contact with food needs to be approved for food contact, so this is for all our packaging. The great advantage of the advanced technology used by Trinseo so this is as mentioned by Julien, the depolymerization process is that we come back to the monomer. Meaning that through the recycling process and the final after the polymerization, the recycle polystyrene has exactly the same property than the virgin polystyrene. Meaning that we can use that in contact with our product according to the regulation and according to our internal [inaudible 00:29:26]. This is the great benefit of this technology is that the recycled polystyrene that we use after that is food contact approved.

Tim (29:37):

Okay, thank you. And staying with you Frédéric, another issue that crops up a lot when we talk about circular economy is enabling the consumers to understand what the brands are doing and ensuring that it's communicated effectively. As a consumer if I were buying yogurts in France, how would I know that the yogurt cup that you're bringing out contains recycled material? Is that part of your strategy?

Frédéric (30:07):

Yes, so it was a topic that we discussed because so far the use of recycled content especially the recycled plastic content for packaging it's rather new for the consumer. So we had discussion and we decided to clearly communicate on the pack with our consumer to mention that we are using 50% of certified polystyrene. As we can see on the screen, so this is of course in French but we have put that we use 50% of certified recycled plastic on that pot just to inform and to develop also the awareness of our consumer. We have also added the logo of ISCC that we have discussed earlier, which is the organism that have audited all the value chain, and this is to guarantee that our practice and to track also the circular content through the manufacturing system, as Julien has explained.

Frédéric (31:06):

This was important for us to transparently communicate with the consumer. As we mentioned, our objective in the future is to add recycled content and to go towards circular economy for all our packaging. It is important for us also to start to engage with the consumer and to tell them also what we are doing and why it is the good approach for our product and our packaging.

Tim (31:33):

Thank you. Julien, I'm interested in understanding the end-of-life. We've talked about the recycled contents here but what about the recyclability? Does the existence of recycled content in this have any impact on the recyclability of the polystyrene? What's the scenario once these pots become packaging waste?

Julien (32:02):

Basically in the beauty of this technology, you've got a PS with a simple chemistry that can be depolymerized back to its building blocks, the styrene. You purify the styrene and you come back to recycled styrene with identical properties to original styrene. Thus, you enable the production of virgin-like polystyrene again and again. So we like to say it infinitely recyclable, which is true. Obviously, there is a yield associated with this process. So if you want to keep the same volume, you have also to compensate by adding virgin material on top. Now, the thing if you want to make this model fully circular then you have to use virgin material which is not fossil-based. The next steps obviously is to think about bio-source material. Then to complement the recycled material, the recyclability of this material and to have a full circular model. That's the two components really guaranteeing the future that will have a full circular model, bio-source and the recyclability of polystyrene.

Tim (33:18):

Thank you, Julien. Well, I think it's nearly time for us to hand over the agenda to our audience. We always like to and I can see we've had a lot of engagement and we've got probably more questions than we'll have time to answer today. We'll get through as many as possible, but before we do so, I'd like to just ask each of our speakers today to reflect on the future prospects. We've seen some really, what I would say, very exciting progress in the story that we've told this afternoon. But what are the next steps in this journey? Frédéric, perhaps you could start and give us your brand owner point of view on the next chapter of this story.

Frédéric (34:10):

Definitely this launch was a key milestone in the development of the recycling polystyrene in France, but also beyond in Europe. We have demonstrated that it is feasible. That was definitely the objective of this first launch. Now we'll continue to collaborate with all the key stakeholders of the value chain to make it industrial. We discuss about that. Now we want to have something which is industrial. In the meantime we will continue, Yoplait will continue to roll out that on our portfolio for some new launches. This is what we see as the next step.

Frédéric (34:50):

Something that I wanted to mention also in this experience that again successful collaboration and very interesting is that this project and this collaboration between the different partners to launch this product has been mentioned by some official as a reference for the industry. I think again, it was very successful and we hope that this collaboration that we had will help other recycling stream to start and to develop in France but also in Europe. At the end, this is critical to develop the recycling of the plastic in Europe. This is very important for us as a brand owner but also of course for our environment.

Tim (35:33):

Thank you Frédéric. Julien so same question really to you. What's on Trinseo's agenda as we move forward with circularity?

Julien (35:42):

Well, basically next steps is about bringing the needed capacity to the market of these food approved recycled polystyrene. That will be supported by investments to build such chemical recycling plants. I can mention that Trinseo will build such chemical recycling plants in Belgium, Tessenderlo on its current polystyrene premises, and that should be operational by year 2023, end of 2023. It will enable the conversion of around 15,000 tons. 15,000 tons of PS waste back to recycle styrene. We are also involved in other industrial initiative, partnership to get access to recycled styrene. By 2025, we estimate that more than 80,000 tons, so 80,000 ton of chemically recycled full polystyrene will be made available to the market by 2025.

Julien (36:50):

Chemical recycling is one option. Actually, the simplicity of PS, I mentioned that earlier allow us to develop other recycling paths. There is a dissolution technology. There is also the optimized, those are so-called [inaudible 00:37:08] mechanical recycling which I already mentioned, which will add their own recycled volume by 2025 in the next few years. Probably up to 25% of the European PS packaging will recover the [inaudible 00:37:23] by 25%. I'm not sure that there is so many polymers which can claim that right now. Again, catching up, progressing super fast so quite amazing.

Tim (37:39):

Thank you Julien. Finally Ana, as a converter here, how do you see the next steps in this journey?

Ana (37:47):

Well, once the chemical rPS is technically validated and comply with food safety requirement, as converter we transform a sequel polystyrene, PCR-based without the need of additional investments on production lines or functional adjustments for either Intraplás or Yoplait. I can say our production plants are already certified by the ISCC Plus requirements so we have the technology and the installed capacity to produce on an industrial scale, and we are ready to receive and produce sustainable circular of rPS for FFS machine to produce yogurt cup.

Tim (38:35):

Thank you to all three of our speakers for sharing that story. Now's a chance for us to go into some of the details based on the audience's questions. As I said, we have a lot of questions and I can immediately apologize to those of you who I don't manage to ask because we certainly aren't going to get through all of them. But what I can do is perhaps share those questions with our speakers afterwards, and it might be possible for them to get back to you individually. Anyway, let's get through as many as we can in the remaining 15 minutes or so we have. I'll give this one to Julien but if Ana or Frédéric would like to jump in afterwards, then please feel free to. The question is, can you prove the environmental credentials of rPS? Do you have LCA studies to back them up Julien?

Julien (39:33):

Yeah, indeed the LCA tool is becoming the arbitrator or so to prove that we are doing the right thing for the environment. I was mentioning during this interview that indeed the consortium SCS made public last month the first analysis considering three different technologies, again, chemical recycling depo, the dissolution and mechanical recycling. Right now it's reviewed by the external panel and the report, the full report with all the details will be made available within a few weeks. But again, the results are very positive and it was shown publicly. We are talking about the choosing by two metric ton, the CO2 emitting versus production of virgin material including incineration so it's around 75% CO2 reduction for depolymerization, but it's in the same order of magnitude also for the other two technologies. Yeah, we have those credentials to prove that we are doing the right thing when it comes to this unique material.

Tim (40:51):

Thank you. Anything anyone would like to add?

Frédéric (40:54):

Maybe just add, as a brand owner, of course, the first priority was the recyclability of the polystyrene. However, as mentioned, we would like to reduce our impact also on the environment. And of course that the very good result that Julien mentioned for the recycling and especially the chemical recycling of polystyrene is of course something very important for us. We will be able to achieve the two objectives, the recyclability of our packaging and also the reduction of the carbon footprint and of our impact on the environment. This is definitely very good news, and we are very happy to have the confirmation because we had already some pilot study and some indication that of course recycling process is beneficial in term of reduction of the carbon footprint. But with this detailed result, we have the confirmation, so this is a very great news.

Tim (41:50):

Thank you. There's a slightly related question that's come in which I don't know if you would have the data to this or not, but one of our audience members asked about the comparison between depolymerization and mechanical recycling in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Do you have anything that you can tell us about that?

Julien (42:15):

Well, actually, we all have in mind that mechanical recycling positions itself better versus chemical recycling, which is a more energy consuming process. It's right. If you do have quite a clean stream available, you will tend to favor mechanical recycling. But again, mechanical recycling has its drawbacks as we knowI --it can't tackle the whole range of waste. And here comes chemical recycling which is much more forgiving when it comes to the quality of the inputs to be treated and converted. Based on the latest results shown by SCS, actually, the difference is not so important. We've got, again, I think it's the decrease of 80% of CO2 emission global warming potential when it comes to mechanical recycling and 75% for chemical recycling. Again, it depends on many assumptions, but we have adopted a very conservative position also for chemical recycling, as you will see when the report will be made available.

Tim (43:34):

I guess the key point there is that relative to virgin, you have this big reduction and that with chemically recycled content, you're going to have far fewer issues with food applications and the regulatory context there.

Julien (43:53):

Yeah. And why it's important and why we’re not opposed on those two technology, I -- it's totally complementary. Even we can exploit mechanical recycling and get back the loss to feed the chemical recycling plants, so it's really complementary those two processes. And so you should never oppose one or the other as long, obviously, as we are not cannibalizing the pure streams when it comes to chemical recycling.

Tim (44:21):

Okay. Thank you. That's really interesting. Okay, let's take another question. Is the project you described limited to France, or is this going to be rolled out into other countries? Frédéric, you already spoke a little bit about your aspirations to spread into other geographies, but would you be able to give us a little bit more on that?

Frédéric (44:45):

Yes, of course. Our objective is not to limit that only to France. Our objective will be to continue to use polystyrene in all the markets that we are using this type of polymer for our pot. I think the good collaboration in this successful launch that we had in France is, it could be of course duplicated and roll out in some other markets. Definitely it's not limited to France, and we have some ongoing initiatives and discussion to do similar collaboration and approach in some other countries and region. Think that each market, each local situation is different. As we all know, we have confirmed that polystyrene is easily and widely technically recyclable, which is a great confirmation, we knew but we have the confirmation so this point is it. There is no question on that.

Frédéric (45:43):

The big challenge that we'll have by market will be of course, the size of the market and the collection infrastructure, and of course the recycling infrastructure. This is why the collaboration that we had across all the value chain in France, it's so important to have the same approach because it's not only one individual, so whatever Trinseo, Intraplás, or Yoplait to say, we would like to have polystyrene recyclable in that country. We need to have all the stakeholders to talk together and to build this recycling stream. The good point is that we have demonstrated that in France it is feasible so why not in the other countries and in the other region.

Tim (46:28):

Thank you. Thank you Frédéric. Okay, let's take another question. This one I think I will put to Julien. Is bio-polystyrene a sustainable alternative to rPS?

Julien (46:41):

Yeah, indeed. I mentioned the value alternatives so I'm quite glad that the audience was vigilant enough to grasp it so it will give me the opportunity to introduce it. Yes, I said recycling is one particular component of the circular journey, but bio-source can also be another indispensable element. We are ready with it today since Trinseo can provide to the bio-base polystyrene made of bio-waste. We are not tapping into the food chains. It's really a second generation type of bio-sourcing. It's ISCC certified, it's fully commercial. It uses the mass balance approach so it's a drop-in solution for our customers, our partners. If you are interested, do not hesitate obviously to contact me. I don't know if the emails will appear. I think yes at the end. For the ones, you can also join me via LinkedIn, I will connect with you with great pleasure.

Tim (47:44):

Okay. Thank you.

Ana (47:45):

Tim, I can add some comment because in our case like converters, we are also yes, ISCC Plus certified for bio-polymers. We are in the testing phase to prove the same goals to the rPS chemical.

Tim (48:06):

Okay. Thank you.

Frédéric (48:07):

If I may-

Tim (48:08):

Yeah, please.

Frédéric (48:09):

... just one comment also because you mentioned could be an alternative. I would not also oppose, it could be end. We could easily, we could imagine to have an a, this is a bit what Julien explained earlier, we could imagine to blend the two to have a part of the feedstock which is bio-polystyrene, and also part of the feedstock which is recycled polystyrene. I think we should not, for me personally, is not or. It could and/or. Of course one or the other, but it's not or. It's we can put both as a great solution to reduce the impact on the environment.

Tim (48:47):

Thank you. Great. Okay. Here's another question. Is it realistic to scale up PS recycling to the volumes required to make a difference? What are the barriers? Who would like to take that? Maybe Julien again?

Julien (49:04):

Frédéric mentioned it already to some points. The typical challenge that the recycling industry is facing, whatever the polymer may be, it's not just about polystyrene, it's about the collection and making sure you have access to the right quantity, at the right quality of waste to feed your recycling plant. Today we are working with different partners along the value chain to secure this feed and the supply of our future chemical recycling plant. That's one challenge. When it comes to PS, another one is that we need to voice out loud all the activities that have gone on to make PS a recycled material. I told you we were a bit late, we're catching up, but we need to make sure that all the parties are aware about the amazing progress. I think that's probably the two big challenge of that. I think that basically it's a collaboration between the three of us. Again, it's a pretty nice demonstration of the acceleration and the progress that we have done to develop these circular PS materials.

Frédéric (50:29):

But just yes, of course, there are some roadblocks and it's not, Julien mentioned some projection in term of the volume. Of course the challenge is about the CapEx, about the engagement of some older players on that, so these are some key element. But something which is important is that the market is there. There is the demand for recycled material, for recycled polymers, for recycled polystyrene. I think this is a great point because if the market is there, if there is a request for recycled polymer, there is no doubt that in the future the capacity will be there and will develop across Europe and/or other region. This is an important point. There is a demand. It's feasible so there is no doubt that the industry will invest and will catch up on this challenge.

Tim (51:26):

Thank you very much Frédéric. There've been a few questions on a particular topic. I think I'm going to raise that question with you, and it's probably the last one we'll have time for today. I should say once again that I will share the LinkedIn profiles of our three speakers today on the event platform. I've just shared in this chat as well, but if you don't manage to click on those links before we close this Zoom meeting, you can find it back on the event platform together with the mass balance white paper by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which Julien mentioned earlier.

Tim (52:10):

Yes, apologies to everyone who has asked a question and we haven't had a chance to address here, but please do feel free to reach out to our speakers and I will share the questions with them afterwards in case they want to get back to you directly. The final question I'm going to put to the panel today is about cost. Here's one of the questions we've received on that, and it's nicely put. What about costs without entering into details. Same price? Far below? Far higher? I think as our audience has anticipated, this is something where you're not at liberty to go into confidential details, but can you give us a sense of the implications?

Frédéric (53:00):

As a brand owner, I can talk because we are the end and I will let Ana and Julien talk about the cost of production. For sure today, it costs much more. There is a premium and we know that it's new. As mentioned, we are not yet there at in terms of industrial capability. The collection is not well organized and limited. The volume to process and recycling are also limited so definitely there is a significant cost today for that. We are ready to consider because again, we need to start to use, to develop this market and the recycling. In the future, and we have some other examples with some other polymers, recycle polymers on the market, of course we expect, and this is of course what we want is that, the cost and the price of such a recycled material will be sustainable for everybody.

Frédéric (54:01):

Of course, the investor and the companies that has invested big CapEx for the capacity, they need to have a return. Also, for us in term of brand owners, we need to have something which is acceptable in terms of price. As mentioned, our target would be ideally to have 100% of our part using 100% of recycled polystyrene. Of course the price will be a key element and we could imagine that in the future, we will have a balance between the cost and the price of the recycled polystyrene and the one for the recycled polystyrene. The virgin and the recycled, yeah.

Tim (54:44):

Thank you Frédéric. Right, well, I'm afraid that's all we have time for today. Our hour is up. Thank you everyone for joining us today. A special thank you to Frédéric Chapuis, Ana Carneiro, and Julien Renvoise for sharing your stories and your perspectives today. In case you arrived halfway through the meeting or later, I can tell you that we have recorded this meeting today. We will edit it and upload that recording on the event platform so you can view it along with other Sustainable Packaging Summit content on demand hopefully around next week sometime it should be available for you. It just remains to say that on the Sustainable Packaging Summit platform tomorrow, Thursday, the 22nd of July at 3:00 PM Brussels Time, we have another interactive Zoom session. This one is the second in our series entitled from competition to collaboration led by the consultants, Tracy Sutton and Jocelyn Arnett.

Tim (55:49):

This time there'll be tackling the question of reuse and why reuse models haven't taken off yet as much as people have anticipated and what can be done to promote system change in that area. Beyond that, the Sustainable Packaging Summit has a very busy autumn program ahead, and we'll be letting you know about that agenda soon. For now, thank you very much for engaging. Thank you for all of your questions. As I said, we will follow up individually, possibly, and we encourage you to connect with our speakers and talk and collaborate with them as appropriate. Finally, thank you once again to Ana, Frédéric, and Julien. Have a great day everyone.

Julien (56:30):

Thank you Tim.

Frédéric (56:30):

Thank you Tim. Have a nice day. Thank you.

Ana (56:30):

Thank you Tim. Bye-Bye. Have a nice day.

Julien (56:31):

Take care. Bye-Bye.

Tim (56:33):

Goodbye.

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Unlocking the Full Circularity of Polystyrene

Unlocking the Full Circularity of Polystyrene

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