Netherlands: The PolyStyreneLoop (PSL) Cooperative has inaugurated the European expanded polystyrene (EPS) / extruded polystyrene insulation (XPS) industry’s closed-loop project for the recycling of polystyrene (PS) insulation foam waste in Amsterdam. The research is testing a concept to dissolve the recently restricted chemical, Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), from PS foam waste while also allowing for the recovery of bromine, which can then be used again for the production of new flame retardants. The PSL project is intended to help the European Union (EU) deal with an expected 20Mt of insulation material containing HBCD that will need to be disposed of in the next 50 years.
The PolyStyreneLoop demonstration plant aims to begin operations in 2018 and will have the capacity to treat up to 3300t/yr of PS waste. Once up and running, the PolyStyreneLoop project will be able to cope with incoming PS foam waste streams and produce recyclate that could be used in new PS foam insulation installations. The new initiative has been financed and built by the 56 members and supporters of the PolyStyreneLoop Cooperative. The EU has also supported it financially.
The association for European Manufacturers of Expanded Polystyrene (EUMEPS) said that recycling PS foam typically saves as much as 50% CO2 emissions compared to using it for energy recovery. It added that it believes that the technology it is testing offers an additional contribution to resource efficiency at the end-of-life phase for PS foam insulation, on top of the CO2 emissions already saved by reducing energy consumption during the long-use phase of a building.