St. James Chemical Plant to Combat Difficult-to-Recycle Foam Cups, Plastics | business

The owners of a petrochemical plant on St. James Parish are conducting a feasibility study to build a new facility to process hard-to-recycle plastic products that have already been manufactured.

The St. James Americas Styrenics styrofoam factory has been open since 1971 and is located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans along the Mississippi.

AmSty, a joint venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP and Trinseo LLC, is the largest producer of polystyrene in North America. The St. James facility produces two types of styron, which are used as resins for foam products such as cups, molded luggage, packaging, and home appliances. The two styrene production lines have a capacity of 450,000 tons and 500,000 tons per year.

The new recycling plant would process between 50 and 100 tons of plastic every day. It’s another joint venture between AmSty and Norwegian plastics maker Agilyx Corporation, which has developed advanced recycling technology at its pilot facility in Oregon known as Regenyx.

The partnership dates back to 2018 when the companies invested in the facility. A year later, Agilyx sent its first commercial truckload of recycled styrene monomer to AmSty at its Louisiana facility to restore plastic products. Regenyx has since recycled more than 1 million pounds of polystyrene into new materials.

The companies estimate this will remove 37.5 million foam cups or 32.5 million food containers from the landfill.

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The new facility, which has no construction schedule yet, will be a version of the next-generation pilot facility in Oregon. The plastic raw material would come from the Agilyx subsidiary Cyclyx.

“Polystyrene is an ideal material for the future of recycling,” said Randy Pogue, CEO of AmSty, in a press release.

It is light and less mobile because a Styrofoam cup already consists of 95% air.

“Polystyrene is particularly beneficial for advanced recycling because it can be returned to its original liquid form, the styrene monomer, and uses 40% less energy than other polymers,” said Pogue, who holds a PhD in chemistry.

AmSty wants all of its products to be used in food packaging and the food service industry to have 25% recycled material by 2030. The St. James facility is the second 100 metric tons per day plastic recycling project the company is planning.

A few months ago, AmSty signed another joint venture with Ineos Styrolution for a plant in Channahon, Illinois, using raw materials from Agilyx. It is already in the construction phase.

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