Life Cycle Analysis

cycle animation

Environmental impacts

The life cycle analysis was conducted on the basis of a scenario of an industrial project in France. 
What are the environmental advantages of the Pyrowave technology when compared to the manufacture of virgin product?

Click on each indicator to learn more.


Pyrowave : Less carbon. Better products.

  • ICO 82% less greenhouse gas emissions +

    82% less greenhouse gas emissions

    Our process is 100% electric and the electricity mix in France is low-carbon. Combined with our shorter recycling loop, the project’s carbon footprint is a lot smaller than the one of virgin production of styrene.

  • ICO 82% less impact on ecosystem quality +

    82% less impact on ecosystem quality

    Our process emits less greenhouse gases and has a lesser impact on water scarcity. Our process does not require water or solvents.

  • ICO 73% less energy use +

    73% less energy use

    Our process is a lot less energy-intensive than the production of virgin product because the recycling loop is shorter, i.e. we don’t need to go back as far down to the cracker step like traditional petrochemical processes do. In addition, our highly efficient technology produces the highest yield in the industry thanks to microwaves. Microwaves can be powered by renewable or low-carbon sources, as is the case in France.

  • ICO 94% less impact on water scarcity +

    94% less impact on water scarcity

    We don’t use water or solvent in our process, thus preserving freshwater and our precious resources.

  • ICO 86% less impact on human health +

    86% less impact on human health

    We don’t emit toxic emissions in the atmosphere, reducing the impact on human health issues such as respiratory diseases. In addition, the co-products of our process are recycled into other high-value applications.

Collaborating with the value chain

Pyrowave : Value Chain

1 - The Pyrowave technology in itself only accounts for 12% of total emissions

The indicators described in the section above only consider this part of the value chain.

2 - 88% of environmental impacts stem from the value chain (scope 3), such as collection and sorting

Plastic waste collection counts for 9,5% of greenhouse gas emissions in this percentage.

3 - Sorting and Plastic waste collection counts for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions

Because longer transportation distances mean more greenhouse gases, waste should ideally be locally sourced. This is why Pyrowave’s modular solution adapts to local volumes and minimizes transportation. 

Designing products for recycling and optimizing secondary sorting infrastructure is key for better quality feedstock leading to better sorting and minimizing sorting rejects.

4 - Incentives for recycled content

Mandatory recycled content targets are key to drive the recycling industry and create sustainable products. Prioritizing traceable content is a key element for consumer trust, which Pyrowave’s technology guarantees at 100%.

Please fill out this form to download the technical summary of our LCA

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Want to check out our data, sources and assumptions?

Please fill out this form to request the Excel spreadsheet of our LCA

For any questions regarding this LCA or for potential research collaboration,

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System boundaries

The life cycle analysis (LCA) based on a scenario of an industrial project using the PYROWAVE technology was commissioned by PYROWAVE and modeled by the CIRAIG. It was peer reviewed by Quantis and a team of independent experts, including engineers. The data is sourced from EcoInvent 2020, the model used is the Impact+ methodology, all compliant with ISO 14040 and 14040 standards.

LCA based on a product and end of life approach

scenario data table 1

Such as recommended by the harmonization guide published by LCA consultancy Sphera1, we modeled our system boundaries to reflect the system expansion by addition approach. As the recycling process delivers multiple functions – both treating plastic waste and creating new materials – it shouldn’t only be compared to the virgin production creating new materials. As the figure above shows, we have expanded the system boundaries to add the process of plastic waste end-of-life to the reference scenario. This allows the multifunctional process of chemical recycling to be compared to the same functions delivered in the reference scenario. Thus, the services rendered by the two scenarios are the same: production of 1 kg of styrene monomer and 0.43 of co-products. This approach is entirely consistent with the universally recognized standard ISO 14044, under which our LCA study was conducted.

As such, the LCA compared:

  1. Pyrowave project scenario using catalytic microwave depolymerization of polystyrene (PS) waste
  2. Reference scenario of virgin styrene production and end-of-life of PS waste (38% landfill and 62% incineration)

The results using this methodology (including scopes 1, 2, and 3) are available in the executive summary.

1 Christopher Koffler et al., ‘Life Cycle Assessment of Chemical Recycling: First Steps Towards Harmonization’ (Sphera, 2021),

scenario data table 2

Here are results of Scopes 1 and 2: we isolated the styrene process from the rest of the value chain to highlight the impact of Pyrowave’s technology as the surrounding recycling value chain remains the same, no matter the chosen recycling technology.

The chosen system boundaries for Scopes 1 and 2, as illustrated above, correspond to the reception of purified incoming feedstock (from crude oil in reference scenario and sorted polystyrene waste in the Pyrowave scenario) and ends with the production of purified styrene monomer. The complete LCA document is accessible here.

  • Energy sources. Data uses the French electricity grid for every step of the value chain, corresponding to 74% nuclear, 9% fossil fuels, 1% combustion renewables and 16% non-combustion renewables.
  • Feedstock preparation. The purified feedstock input for the Pyrowave scenario arrives from a secondary sorting facility, where the post-consumer waste is assumed to reach a purity of nearly 95% polystyrene material.
  • Styrene process. This step includes:
    • reception of feedstock,
    • extrusion-filtration separating the PS input from any remaining contamination,
    • Catalytic Microwave Depolymerization (CDM), where polystyrene is broken down into various products including the monomer.
    • The distillation that produces pure styrene monomer (99.8%) and co-products containing aromatics (cumene, ethylbenzene, and toluene) and oligomers,
    • The incineration of direct process emissions (pyrolysis gas, char, extrusion rejects). We assume these by-products are incinerated with heat recovery.

Awards and Recognitions

The Pyrowave technology has been recognized numerous times!

Pyrowave Named to Fast Company’s Annual List of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024
Pyrowave wins an award at ADRIQ
Jocelyn Doucet honored by his peers at Polytechnique Montréal
Best Franco-Quebec collaboration award
Pyrowave winner of the Outreach Outside Quebec Award at the EnviroLys 2022 Gala
Pyrowave among the 12 winners of the 2021 BNEF Pioneers
Pyrowave among Novae's 20 impactful innovations of 2020
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and Pyrowave winners of Ecotech Québec's Eurêka! award
Closed Loop Partners
Smart Prosperity Institute
2018 Innovation Grand Award of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec
Member of: World Alliance for efficient solutions
Nominated in the Global Cleantech 50 Ones to Watch List
Ranked 1st at the International Industrial Chemistry Competition.
Nominated in the Global Cleantech 100 Ones to Watch List
Top 20 Most Innovative Company, by the Canadian Innovation Exchange

Our partners

Discover our change-making partners. Together, we create new low carbon value chains.