PolyStyrene Loop to recycle EPS into polystyrene with full bromine recovery

Source: EUMEPS European Manufacturers of EPS

Maaseik, Belgium – Non–profit foundation “PolyStyrene Loop” takes a proactive initiative to build a demonstration plant by 2018 for sustainable recycling of end-of-life expended polystyrene (EPS) containing HBCDD flame retardant including bromine recovery using the latest technologies available supporting the circular economy. The PolyStyrene Loop foundation will elaborate on the Solvolysis technique, which was developed by Fraunhoffer IVV. By using this technique, EPS can be recycled into polystyrene.

The industry is convinced already today for the need to proactively further develop this technology, in order to be ready for closing the loop and to offer an industry concept that can deal with the growing volumes of construction waste that will finally originate from the demolition of buildings in the coming decades.

A total of 23 people from various sectors of the European expended polystyrene industry, Dutch national and provincial authorities plus EPS recyclers took the initiative for a kick-off meeting hosted by ICL IP Europe in Terneuzen. The theme of the meeting centered on the motto “Demo plant for sustainable recycling of EPS containing HBCDD, including bromine recovery” originating from construction waste becoming available in the near future. This process can be seen as the most sustainable form of raw material feedstock recycling contributing and stimulating to a more circular economy.

To this end, various presentations covering the legal frame work of EPS waste and recycling including the Solvolysis technique developed by the Fraunhofer IVV, the business case and funding options were given. The need for a formation of a supporting consortium to build a Solvolysis demo plant was identified. The idea to include all participants from the EPS industry (recyclers, EPS bead producers and EPS converters) and a flame retardant raw material producer was well accepted. This project and the final demonstration plant will strongly support the Circular Economy.

The ICL IP Europe facility has a Bromine Recovery Unit (BRU), which can be used in a sustainable way to recover bromine from HBCDD coming from the Solvolyse demo plant. The BRU is in operation since 2002 and was at that time already designed to meet future bromine recycling demands. This proprietary solvent-based polymer recycling process dissolves PS from EPS waste while maintaining the polymer chain. It is known as the “CreaSolv® Process” and has also recently been applied in the European Polysolve project. It offers a closed loop recycling for polystyrene foam within a sustainable circular economy.

It was decided to form a non-profit foundation “PS Loop” so the industry can clearly demonstrate that it is determined to form a recycling entity that is committed to realize the recycling concept in Terneuzen and then to roll out this recycling concept to other EU member states, when the EoL EPS will be available, thus fully embracing the circular economy. The project management will consist of a core team (the founders of this project) and supporting teams each covering essential elements. It was decided to work with four different working groups to build the information data base in order to progress this project further.

These working groups will cover waste handling legal frame work, logistics cost, detail engineering work for the Solvolysis demo plant and funding options. The core team constitutes as a start with representatives from Sunpor, Synbra, ICL IP Europe and EUMEPS.

The objective is to have the “Solvolysis technique” incorporated in the EoL technical guidelines for HBCDD containing polystyrene foam as an additional End of Life option besides incineration, and to have a demo plant available by 2018. Other styrene converters are invited to join in.

Source: EUMEPS European Manufacturers of EPS