EPS recycling for circular economy - PolyStyreneLoop

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation panels from construction waste
EPS contaminated with the flame retardant HBCD can be recycled with the CreaSolv® process

EPS waste contaminated with HBCD must be disposed in a safe way

Expanded polystyerene (Styropor® or airpop®) in building waste is contaminated with the flame retardant HBCD and current legislation dictates that this must be disposed of in a safe way. This is generally achieved by thermal treatment. The ongoing PolyStyreneLoop project, a project being funded under the EU LIFE program, involves 64 industrial partners and research organizations and is now transferring a viable and environmentally friendly alternative recycling technology to an industrial scale.

The CreaSolv® Process makes closed loop recycling of EPS waste possible

The Fraunhofer IVV CreaSolv® Process dissolves the expanded polystyrene from the mixed waste and safely separates the flame retardants from the polymer matrix. The fire retardants are then safely thermally decomposed. The bromine is recovered and used for the production of modern, safer fire retardants. The purified polystyrene solution undergoes several further processing steps, with the result being a polystyrene recyclate free of flame retardants suitable for the manufacture of new insulating materials. The project thus showcases a functioning circular economy.

The pilot plant used for the PolyStyreneLoop project is suitable for processing 2000 to 3000 tonnes annually and from 2020 will be operational in Terneuzen in the Netherlands. Recycling companies will hence have the opportunity to dispose of polystyrene that is contaminated with flame retardants in an effective and environmentally friendly way.

Process flow according to the CreaSolv® Process: