Although styrene is naturally found in foods and drinks like cinnamon, strawberries, and coffee, when strung together with other chemicals, it’s used to create a foam insulation for protection of sensitive electronics.
However, the problem with this material is that it’s almost impossible to be recycled. But, a new innovative plant in Europe is trying to change this.
Innovative European Plant Is Recycling Polystyrene Waste
Since it’s 98 percent air, polystyrene foam isn’t cost-effective for shipping or storage.
However, this Dutch plant has overcome this problem in order to recycle the waste from expanded polystyrene.
The PolyStyreneLoop plant is located in Terneuzen and it’s just opened up.
The plant is built to prove the economic and technical feasibility of a closed-loop and large-scale solution for recycling EPS waste.
This plant will begin by recycling EPS foam insulation through a process that’s based on a tech which turns it into a new premium quality raw material.
In fact, all impurities like residue from glue and cement, including the HBCD additive, will be safely eliminated whereas the valuable bromine will be recovered.
According to the plant’s co-director, Lein Tange, this plant is an example of the EPS’s industry strive to boost their recycling power.
This plant, Tange added, is designed to open up the way for constructing similar EPS recycling plants in other parts of Europe too.
This plant, using funds from an EU grant, has been built by a Dutch non-profit whose members are more than 70 representatives of industries from the polystyrene foam chain.
What Is the Capacity of the Polystyrene-Recycling Plant?
The Terneuzen plant will have the power to recycle 3300 metric tons of polystyrene foam arriving from the Netherlands, Germany, and other countries too.
It’s a proof that this new recycling process helps include the polystyrene foam in the circular economy instead of being left to fill up our landfills.
Jan Noordegraaf, co-director of the plant, says that it’s a major plus that they can do the recycling with the same energy input as the mechanical recycling and they emphasize the energy used comes entirely from windmills.
Although its main objective is recycling EPS building and construction waste, later on, they also plan to recycle extruded polystyrene or Styrofoam which is commonly used for making single-use cups, plates, and different packaging.
Is the Netherlands the only Place where EPS Is Recycled?
Actually, this isn’t the only country in Europe that’s recycling EPS.
In fact, Molygran in the UK has been recycling their polystyrene and they accept any type of white expanded polystyrene that’s clean, undecorated, and dry.
According to their 2020 report, enthusiastic recyclers were sending them EPS from different parts of the UK and helped them recycle 37 tons of EPS from landfills.