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Molecular Upcycling of Waste Polystyrene to Specialty Chemicals

Economic Sector
Waste Management
Environmental Benefits
Climate changeClean airClean soil
Consortium members
GreenMantra TechnologiesSun Chemical Corporation
Year Approved
Year Announced
SDTC Funding
Leveraged Funding
Total Project Value

Lead organization:

GreenMantra Technologies


Polystyrene is among the fastest growing solid waste material, with over 5 billion pounds consumed annually in North America. It is used in consumer products and commercial packaging, and once discarded, often ends up in municipal landfills. If it is recycled, it often results in material that is of poor quality, has few outlet applications, and low financial returns.

In a previously funded project with SDTC, GreenMantra demonstrated an innovative way to break down #2, 4, and 5 polyolefin waste plastics and convert them into synthetic waxes used in various industrial applications. These applications include building products, plastics, and adhesives, where wax additives improve performance and cost of final formulated products.

In this project, GreenMantra will expand its technology platform to enable it to convert #6 polystyrene plastic into higher-value styrenic polymers. They will do this by using a patented process and proprietary catalyst system that allows for a selective breakdown of polystyrene to novel styrenic polymers. These polymers will have consistent physical and thermal properties that can be tailored to a given application. This technology has the potential to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by diverting waste polystyrene foam and ridged products from landfills and using it to offset fossil sources as a feedstock to make styrenic products.

These new polymer materials will be targeted for use in inks, foam insulation, and other select applications. As part of this new project, they will be collaborating with a consortium partner, Sun Chemical, the world’s largest producer of inks, to focus on the use of these new styrenic polymers in certain inks applications.


SDTC Annual Statistics 2016-2017 Image