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Sony High-quality Foamed Polystyrene Recycling System

Limonene, which can be extracted from the skin of oranges, dissolves foamed polystyrene. The Orange R-net System makes possible high-quality, environmentally friendly foamed polystyrene recycling.
A large volume of foamed polystyrene is used on a daily basis, but many problems accompany its post-use disposal. International concern has heightened over the environmental impact of disposal methods such as landfill and incineration, as well as recycling with intense heat and petroleum-derived solvents. When we consider our responsibility to leave a beautiful earth for our descendants, it can probably be said that we have already made unforgivable blunders. Under these conditions, Sony has been researching a high-quality, environmentally friendly way to recycle foamed polystyrene. As a result, we have successfully developed a completely new recycling method using limonene - a natural oil extracted from the skin of oranges - which has the ability to rapidly dissolve foamed polystyrene at room temperatures. Furthermore, in order to make the most of using this method to recycle foamed polystyrene in a variety of situations, we are promoting the sharing of knowledge among collaborating manufacturers that are technologically strong in various fields of business. Concentration of the strengths of each company has brought to perfection the Orange R-net System of recycling foamed polystyrene using limonene.

Multiple benefits of Orange R-net System

It places a relatively small burden on the environment and can greatly contribute to curbing global warming by recycling foamed polystyrene. Since it uses natural limonene extracted from the skin of oranges, the level of safety is high (limonene has been approved as a food additive). Because foamed polystyrene is dissolved at room temperatures, low-energy production of high-quality recycled polystyrene is possible. The volume of foamed polystyrene can be reduced to 1/50 - 1/100 of its original volume on the spot, so transportation is highly efficient. Since foamed polystyrene is dissolved, the removal of foreign matter, either in the form of solid or oil, is easy. Limonene itself can be reused.

Foamed polystyrene dissolved by limonene

Aiming at realizing the "Plan to recycle 40,000 tons of foamed polystyrene" in Japan by 2010
Almost 400,000 tons of foamed polystyrene is produced yearly. If we can recycle approximately 10% - or about 40,000 tons - of that volume through the Orange R-net System, it will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by 60,000 tons a year and enhance the effective utilization of our limited resources. Through its technological know-how, Sony is contributing to the construction of a recyclingoriented society.

What is "limonene" that dissolves foamed polystyrene?

It's a natural oil that can be extracted from the skin of oranges.
Using peels leftover from orange juice production
The d-limonene used in the Orange R-net System is a refined orange oil from the skin of oranges or tangerines after the juice is squeezed out of them. It is a colorless, transparent liquid with a fragrance good enough to be used for aromatherapy. * d-limonene: natural citrus limonene
Oranges Grapefruits Tangerines

Proof in perfumes and cleaners

From ancient times the skin of oranges or tangerines has been used as "dried orange peel" in Chinese medicine and as bath salts. Refined limonene has been used for a long time as a perfume and a strong cleaner to remove oily dirt. It is widely used instead of chlorine cleaners in Germany, and is designated as a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) food additive by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Furthermore, it is thought to contain anticancer ingredients.

A flame-resistant oil
The ignition point for limonene is 270 C. Compared with petroleum-derived solvents, it is difficult to ignite and so is very safe. The results of a public body study done on the ignitability of limonene liquid containing up to 20% dissolved foamed polystyrene confirmed that it won't ignite even if a lit cigarette is thrown into it.

The oil extracted from the peels is refined

Limonene properties density (20 C ) viscosity (25 C , cp) boiling point range ( C ) flash point ( C ) ignition point ( C ) solubility (water) (IPA)

0.844 0.98 175179 48 270 insoluble completely soluble Limonene

Why does foamed polystyrene dissolve with limonene?

Because of almost identical molecular structures
Foamed polystyrene and limonene have similar molecular structures. When mixed together, they begin to dissolve each other, just as easily as sugar melts in water. It is a natural reaction, as opposed to a chemical reaction that alters the substance.

It is possible to transport foamed polystyrene at 1/50 - 1/100 of its original volume.

Foamed polystyrene is 98% air
About 98% of the volume of foamed polystyrene is air. Since many of the products are bulky, such as fish boxes and packing materials, collecting them in their original form is like paying to transport air.

Limonene / foamed polystyrene dissolution process

Molecules of foamed polystyrene are twisted around like a chain Limonene unravels the foamed polystyrene molecules They mix together and become liquid

Limonene can reduce foamed polystyrene volume on the spot or en-route

The Orange R-net System allows for the dissolution of foamed polystyrene in a dissolution machine set up at the location where it has become waste or in a collection vehicle during transportation by crushing it and immersing it in limonene. It is possible to reduce the volume of waste foamed polystyrene to 1/50 - 1/100 at the point of origin. For example, with just one Orange R-net System collection vehicle, you can collect an amount of foamed polystyrene that would normally fill six to 10 trucks. This is effective both in terms of transportation efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.

Foamed polystyrene


after about 30 seconds


after about 3 minutes

One vehicle can collect the same amount as 10 trucks

Molecular structure of limonene

Molecular structure of foamed polystyrene


It is possible to use limonene over and over again.

Foamed polystyrene dissolving power unchanged, even upon reuse
The limonene used to dissolve foamed polystyrene is separated from the polystyrene at the recycling plant. The recovered limonene can be reused to dissolve foamed polystyrene. Only about 1% of the limonene solvent gets used up in a single recycling process, so the limonene itself can be recycled many times.

Room temperature dissolution makes high-quality recycling

Foamed polystyrene dissolves naturally simply by crushing it and immersing it in limonene liquid. Since there is no need to heat it at temperatures as high as 200 C as in the heat contraction method, its molecular weight reduces very little and there is minimal degradation of its physical properties. Add that to the anti-oxidizing function of the limonene liquid, and a high-quality recycled polystyrene that, in the end, differs very little from a new product can be obtained.

Orange R-net System Recycling Process

The Orange R-net System is a foamed polystyrene recycling mechanism that puts very little burden on the environment throughout the entire process, from disposal after product purchase to reuse. Because of this, we can now efficiently recycle and reuse foamed polystyrene.

Foamed polystyrene recycling

New products are made from foamed polystyrene that was once discarded. The Orange Rnet System can make the high-quality recycling of foamed polystyrene a reality.

From the collection of a small amount of foamed polystyrene such as in the form of product packing or trays, to a large amount discarded at factories and markets, the Orange R-net System can be introduced to fit any situation.

Foamed polystyrene is dissolved using limonene. Even in the form of a bulky box, for example, it can be broken into pieces and dissolved in a dissolution machine, reducing the entire volume.

Disposal Purchase Dissolution

Manufacture Recycle

Recycled polystyrene
Since polystyrene recycled without intense heat treatment is of a high quality, it can be used in a variety of products. We have also established a system for purchasing recycled materials.

Recycled limonene
Separated limonene is put back into the dissolution machine and dissolves foamed polystyrene over and over again.

The liquid containing foamed polystyrene reduced to 1/50 - 1/100 of its original volume in the dissolution machine is transported to a recycling plant. With the limonene car a combined volume reducing mechanism and transport vehicle collection can be done while dissolving foamed polystyrene during transportation.

Separation at the recycling plant

At the recycling plant, foreign matter is filtered out of the solvent / foamed polystyrene mixture. Then, it is separated into limonene and polystyrene in a vacuum by heat from a boiler.

Collected solvent / foamed polystyrene mixture put into a solution tank

Contaminants removed using a filter

Foamed polystyrene and limonene separated in a vacuum evaporation separator

Heat transfer medium tank


Limonene Boiler Polystyrene resin

Limonene tank Heat Pelletizer Cooling water tank

Orange R-net System contributes to curbing global warming

The amount of CO2 emissions is less than 1/3 of that caused by the production of new foamed polystyrene. The system itself is ecological.
Verification of Orange R-net System by Life-Cycle Assessment
Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an assessment technique that adds up the environmental impact of a single product through its entire life from raw material procurement to manufacture, use and disposal. How much less - compared with other methods - of a burden foamed polystyrene recycling using the Orange R-net System puts on the environment was verified by an LCA analysis of the process from limonene manufacture to polystyrene pellet production.
* LCA is used as a standard in the ISO4000 environmental management system series.

Methods compared
1) Recycling by Orange R-net System 2) Recycling by heat contraction (recycling method in which foamed polystyrene is exposed to intense heat) 3) New polystyrene composition
Limonene production Foamed polystyrene collection Recycling plant

Recycling by Orange R-net

Limonene refining

Recycling by heat contraction

Foamed polystyrene collection


New polystyrene composition

Monomer synthesis







Amount of CO2 emissions (kg/kgPS)

Comparison of CO2 emissions by cycle process

Orange R-net System environmental contribution verified by LCA analysis

The Orange R-net System has the following environmental benefits. Of the three methods, it poses the least burden on the environment.
(CO2 emissions, SOx+ NOx emissions and energy consumption are all the smallest)

CO2 emissions (kg) SOx+ NOx emissions (kg) Energy consumption Foamed polystyrene quality Recycling by Orange R-net Recycling by heat contraction New polystyrene composition 0.79 1.12 2.23 0.005 0.0139 0.0066 12.8 MJ 16.1 76.5 high low high (new)

The amount of CO2 emissions is less than 1/3 of that caused by new polystyrene composition. CO2 emissions at the time of collection are low because foamed polystyrene is transported in a liquefied form.
(In the heat contraction method, a large amount of CO2 is emitted during transportation because foamed polystyrene is delivered in its original form to the recycling plant.)

Environmental burden and recycled polystyrene quality for each method

Compared with the heat contraction method, it places a smaller burden on the environment.
CO2 emissions (primary cause of warming): SOx, NOx emissions (primary cause of acid rain): Energy consumption: minus 30% minus 58% minus 20%

Aiming for 100% foamed polystyrene recycling

Removal of fat and dirt made possible through liquefaction
Foamed polystyrene liquefaction makes foreign matter filtration easy
In the recycling of foamed polystyrene, increasing purity by removing foreign matter is the key to maintaining high quality. Since the Orange R-net System liquefies foamed polystyrene, foreign matter such as the remains of originally-adhered tape and dust can be easily removed in a recycling filter.

Production of foamed polystyrene using 100% recycled material is possible.

Efficient production is possible without adding new polystyrene
In the Orange R-net System, since the foamed polystyrene is not treated with intense heat, its molecular weight hardly reduces, making it possible to obtain recycled polystyrene almost identical to new polystyrene. When producing foamed polystyrene from recycled polystyrene obtained by other methods like heat contraction, it is necessary to include new polystyrene at a ratio of about 70%. However, the recycled material obtained by the Orange R-net System does not require the inclusion of new polystyrene, so production of foamed polystyrene using only 100% recycled material is possible.

Diatomite and white earth absorb fish blood and fat

Fish boxes and trays used to carry perishables have contaminants, such as fish blood and fat, which cannot be removed through filtration. Their removal takes time and has, until now, been an obstacle to recycling. The Orange R-net System has succeeded in the removal of these contaminants by having them absorbed by diatomite or white earth. White earth is mixed into the limonene solvent containing dissolved foamed polystyrene. It absorbs the blood and fat when the mixture is heated to between 30 C and 40 C. If the mixture is agitated for 30 minutes, it becomes so transparent that a light of any wavelength can pass through it, as shown in the graph below. The white earth can be removed in a centrifuge, making it possible to obtain high quality recycled material without washing the fish boxes or trays.
100 90 80

10 5

3.6 Foamed polystyrene dissolved with limonene Material strength (molecular weight) 3.4

Recycled polystyrene (pellets) from Orange R-net System


Containing white earth


Transmittance (%)

70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0


New foamed polystyrene material

Molecular weight greatly affects physical properties of resin; how it affects them at 200 C in nitrogen was studied.

White earth
Without white earth Transmittance of limonene liquid to lights of
300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700 750 800

0 10 20 Heating time (minutes)





Light wavelength (nm)

varying wavelengths after white earth was put in and the mixture agitated.

Comparison of material strength between foamed polystyrene dissolved with limonene and new foamed polystyrene material.

Proof of high-quality recycled polystyrene

We conducted five consecutive recycling tests using polystyrene of the same molecular weight. A comparison of the results of the first and fifth tests showed that the dynamic properties and heat resistance were almost unchanged. This is because even after recycling five times, the drop in weight average molecular weight was kept at 12%. On the other hand, a 35% molecular weight drop occurs after one recycling process in the conventional heat contraction method.
Vicat softening point

Recycled material can be used in high value-added products.

Its high quality allows it to be developed into main products
Recycled polystyrene obtained by the Orange R-net System can be used not only as foamed polystyrene for packing, but also to make high value-added products such as cabinets and stationary goods. Low-quality recycled polystyrene can only be used in such things as plant pots and hangers, and mixing with new polystyrene is necessary to increase its strength. Furthermore, stable sales prices cannot be expected. The Orange R-net System not only places a smaller burden on the environment, but it can also expand the range of application of recycled material.

12 10
Izod impact

100 Tensile strength (MPa) Vicat softening point 90 80

Melt flow

8 6 4
Tensile break elongation

70 60 50
Tensile strength

2 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 No. of times recycled


Number of recycles using Orange R-net method

New product

1st recycle

3rd recycle

5th recycle

Tensile strength (MPa) Tensile break elongation (%) Izod impact strength (J/m) Vicat softening point Melt flow

48.2 2.2 11 104.5 4.4

47.9 1.9 7 103.4 5.8

47.3 2.0 8 103.5 7.4

45.1 2.5 11 102.5 10.1

Left: Products made from Orange R-net recycled materials. They are recognized as "eco-mark" products. * "Log Mate" rubber stamps (made by ASAHI PHOTO RESIN CO., LTD.) * Eco-mark identification number: 00118088 (in Japan)

*1 Izod impact strength: Indication of the durability of plastic with respect to impact. It is measured by making a v-shape cut in the test piece and hitting it with a weighted pendulum. *2 Vicat softening point: Indication of the practical softening temperature of plastic. It is the temperature at which a needle with a fixed weight attached penetrates to a depth of 1 millimeter. *3 Melt flow: Index of the fluidity of plastic. It is the volume of plastic that flows out of an extruding machine over a 10minute period at a fixed temperature and with a fixed load. The larger the figure, the better the fluidity.

Tensile break elongation (%) Izod impact (J/m) Melt flow


In order to build a recycling-oriented society.

"Orange R-net Polystyrene Reuse Organization" established to gain widespread use of high-quality recycled materials.
High quality allows purchase system to guarantee minimum price
No matter how high the quality of recycled material is, it has no value if it doesn't get used. Therefore, the Orange R-net System established the "Orange R-net Polystyrene Reuse Organization" (Orange PRO) as a means to gain widespread use of high-quality recycled polystyrene in a variety of fields. In order to more effectively use high-quality recycled materials, it guarantees full purchase and a minimum price. The organization is not only of benefit to those people involved in the recycling business, but contributes to reducing the burden on the environment.

Orange R-net Polystyrene Reuse Organization


TOHO INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. ASAHI PHOTO RESIN CO., LTD. NAGASE & CO., LTD. DELTA 21 CORP. Negotiating with several other companies Goal: 1000 companies * In random order

Secretariat: Sony Corporation (as of September 2001)


Orange R-net System has a policy of easy-to-use equipment design. You can operate recycling equipment even without technical expertise.
Ease-of-use and safety are top priority for the dissolution machine
The dissolution machine uses very safe limonene, so even someone who is not an expert in handling dangerous materials can throw used foamed polystyrene into it. The machine is designed to automatically stop agitation when foamed polystyrene is deposited, making its operation safe. Because of that, it is also possible, for example, for customers themselves to put used trays into a dissolution machine set up at a supermarket or retail store. Our goal was to create a dissolution machine using safe and fragrant limonene that can be used by anyone.


Technology provision
Yasuhara Chemical Co.,Ltd. MITSUI ZOSEN PLANT ENGINEERING, INC. TOKYO MITUBISHI FUSO TRUCK & BUS SALES CO.,LTD. Mitsui Bussan Plant & Project Corporation Sankei Giken Kogyo Co.,Ltd.

The "Limonene Car" can be operated with an ordinary driver's license

The volume of limonene solvent carried by the "Limonene Car" is less than the 1,000 liters designated by the fire laws, so no special handling permit is required. The vehicle is smaller than a 2-ton truck, so it can be driven with an ordinary driver's license.

System sales

Recycling plant can be operated even without an expert

The recycling plant was designed such that checks and maintenance can be easily conducted even if you are not a technical expert. Since its design does not require a number of experts, safety improvements and efficiency with minimum operating costs can be expected.

Recycling operators


Recycled material handling

General consumer product makers

Orange R-net System Suppliers

System sales: MITSUI ZOSEN PLANT ENGINEERING, INC. / Mitsui Bussan Plant & Project Corporation Recycling plant manufacture: MITSUI ZOSEN PLANT ENGINEERING, INC. Mitsui Bussan Plant & Project Corporation (SUMITOMO PRECISION PRODUCTS CO., LTD.) Orange oil manufacture: Yasuhara Chemical Co., Ltd. Dissolution collection vehicle manufacture: TOKYO MITUBISHI FUSO TRUCK & BUS SALES CO., LTD.(TECHNOCRAFT CO., LTD.) Fixed dissolution machine manufacture: Sankei Giken Kogyo Co., Ltd.(TES Co., Ltd.) Foreign matter removal filter: TANABE WILLTEC INC./ MERCURY SUPPLY SYSTEMS CORPORATION


Sale of products made from recycled materials


Recycled material sales

Organization of Orange R-net System cooperating enterprises


Example of the cycle within the Sony Group companies

Verification of Orange R-net System within the Sony Group
In order to conduct Orange R-net System foamed polystyrene recycling, Sony set up a recycling plant in Ichinomiya City, Aichi Prefecture. The plant collects foamed polystyrene packing used for actual products, recycles it and again makes it into product packing foamed polystyrene. This kind of foamed polystyrene recycling is already occurring within the group.
Home electrical appliance stores
solution collection Dis vehicle

Parts packing materials

Sony Ichinomiya Recycling Research Center

h-quality recy Hig olystyren cled p e

Sony offices
Dissolution machine/Limonene Car collection
Sony Ichinomiya: B150 model Sony Inazawa: B150 model Sony Components Chiba: B50 model Sony Minokamo: Limonene Car collection Sony Mizunami : Limonene Car collection Hikari Electronics Sachihara : Limonene Car collection Sony (Atsugi Tec) : B50 model
(as of May 2001)


Achievements of Ichinomiya Recycling Research Center

Using a dissolution collection vehicle, workers go around to home appliance stores and collect waste foamed polystyrene. They convert it into recycled foamed polystyrene and use it to pack televisions and video cameras. As of March 2001, a total of approximately 267 tons of recycled polystyrene was produced. Production is expected to increase greatly from now on.

Sony products



le d f

o a m e d p oly st

e yre n

Foamed polystyrene makers

Recycled foamed polystyrene sales



260 240 220 200 Total output (t) 180 160

Monthly output of recycled polystyrene (t)


Total output

140 120

Making an effort to achieve yearly recycling of 200 tons

Monthly output

100 80 60


40 20

Ichinomiya Recycling Research Center

Example of foamed polystyrene made 100% from recycled material Sony video-equipped television KV-21SVF1






Recycled polystyrene output at Ichinomiya Recycling Research Center (as of March 2001)


Orange R-net System Dissolution Machine Series

Dissolution Collection Vehicle (Limonene Car)
For collection of small quantities from many locations. Dissolves discarded foamed polystyrene during collection process.

B150 model (large-size)

For large-scale disposal at factories or markets.

B50 model (mid-size)

Suitable size for retail store use.

B30 model (small-size)

Suitable size for retail store use.

Processing capacity Solution tank Vehicle type Safety features External dimensions

255kgPS/1 batch 2-tank model external appearance 2-ton truck power interlocking for door opening and closing fire extinguisher equipped width 5140 x height 2560 x depth 1930 (mm)

Main features

Processing capacity External dimensions Throw-in mouth Objects to be disposed Safety features

simple touch-panel operation voice-supported operation temporary reverse function upon overload high-performance foreign matter removal filter heating device for cold regions (optional) 150kgPS/1 batch width 2710 x height 1600 x depth 1036 (mm) width 1405 x height 390 (mm) fish boxes, trays, home appliance packing density detection sensor liquid temperature sensor agitator shut-down upon door opening emergency stop button

Main features

Processing capacity External dimensions Throw-in mouth Objects to be disposed Safety features

simple touch-panel operation density warning buzzer temporary reverse function upon overload high-performance foreign matter removal filter heating device for cold regions (optional) 50kgPS/1 batch width 1700 x height 1600 x depth 910 (mm) width 790 x height 390 (mm) fish boxes, trays, home appliance packing density detection sensor liquid temperature sensor agitator shut-down upon door opening emergency stop button

Main features

Processing capacity External dimensions

Throw-in mouth Objects to be disposed Safety features

replaceable tanks; no need to put solution in or out simple button operation high-performance crusher part, small & light dissolving part with double agitator blades, small & highly efficient 30kgPS/1 batch crusher part: width 850 x height 1100 x depth 650 (mm) dissolving part: diameter 490 x height 930 (mm) width 500 x height 400 (mm) fish boxes, trays, home appliance packing shuts down upon door opening emergency stop button density sensor

Orange R-net System Recycling Plant Series

H50 model
System Material to be processed Processing capacity Power consumption External dimensions vacuum evaporation separation limonene/polystyrene solution 50kgPS/h 2030KW width 4000 x height 5000 x depth 2500 (mm)

H100 model
vacuum evaporation separation limonene/polystyrene solution 100kgPS/h 3040KW width 5000 x height 5000 x depth 3000 (mm)

H200 model
vacuum evaporation separation limonene/polystyrene solution 200kgPS/h 3040KW width 5000 x height 5000 x depth 3000 (mm)

H300 model
vacuum evaporation separation limonene/polystyrene solution 300kgPS/h 4050KW width 8000 x height 6000 x depth 4000 (mm)

*For development or production reasons, specifications of machines and equipment shown here may change without prior notice. Check with the system sales companies for details.


Orange R-net is a trademark of Sony Corporation.


Limonene Recycling Promotion Division Environmental Affairs Home Network Company

Sony Corporation Osaki West Tec. 2-10-14 Osaki Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan 141-0032 Tel: +81-3-3495-3139 Fax: +81-3-3495-3098
as of April 2003

This catalogue is made from 100% recycled paper. Printed using VOC(Volatile Organic Compound)-free vegetableoil based ink.