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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article | 7 July 2021

Closing the loop: Grand opening of PolyStyreneLoop’s recycling plant

The PolyStyreneLoop team recently opened a new recycling plant for expanded polystyrene (EPS) demolition waste in Terneuzen, the Netherlands.

LIFE16 ENV/NL/000271

EPS is a lightweight foam that has outstanding protective and thermal insulation properties. It is widely used as an insulation material in buildings as well as in packaging to protect all kinds of goods. But the foam is hard to recycle as it contains impurities like cement and flame retardants. This has seen Europe’s construction sector incinerating around 200 000 tonnes of EPS each year. 

The PolyStyreneLoop team’s new recycling plant aims to cut this waste by showing the technical and economic feasibility of a large-scale, closed-loop solution for recycling EPS. The plant will initially recycle this waste from the Netherlands and Germany, turning it into high-quality insulation material. The team also has plans to recycle demolition waste from other countries.

The flame-retardant chemical called Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) as well as other kinds of impurities will be safely removed during the process. Overall, the plant will recycle 3 300 tonnes of EPS each year.

‘We are thrilled that this plant is now operational after many years of hard work,’ said Lein Tange, Co-Director of PolyStyreneLoop. ‘It brings us one step closer to closing the loop on EPS recycling in Europe.’

‘PolyStyreneLoop is a great example of value creation, and it is starting a giant flywheel and a business model that deserves to be propagate,’ added Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water, Management Stientje van Veldhoven.

PolyStyreneLoop’s members comprise more than 70 industry representatives from the entire polystyrene foam value chain.

The new plant was built with support from the LIFE programme and contributes to the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan – an important element of the European Green Deal. This plan encourages sustainable consumption so that the resources used are kept in the economy for as long as possible.

Want to find out more?

See video highlights of the plant's grand opening on 16 June.

Learn about the process of recycling polystyrene foam demolition waste.

Image: LIFE16 ENV/NL/000271. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

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