A new group in Europe is working to build a demonstration plant to recycle EPS building insulation containing a brominated flame retardant.
The group, PolyStyrene Loop, aims to build a demonstration plant by 2018, according to a press release from membership association European Manufacturers of EPS.
The plant would use a technology called the “CreaSolv Process,” a proprietary solvent-based polymer recycling process, to recycle EPS containing hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD). HBCDD is a brominated flame retardant that can harm the environment and human health. Foam containing the chemical is frequently found in building insulation.
Currently, most EPS containing HBCDD from demolition sites is landfilled or incinerated. In Europe, an estimated 172,000 tons of C&D debris with HBCDD are expected to enter the waste stream in the year 2030, according to a recently published research paper on the chemical’s environmental risks.
Through the CreaSolv method, PS in EPS is dissolved but the polymer chain is maintained, allowing it to be recycled. The process also recovers all of the bromine, according to the press release.
The process was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, an industry-funded research group based in Germany. In collaboration with BASF, Fraunhofer also developed an on-site screening process building demolition crews can use to identify foams with HBCDD so they can separate them from foams with newer flame-retardant technologies.
The plan to create a demonstration plant came from an Oct. 28 meeting of industry representatives and government officials in the Netherlands. The meeting was held at the offices of major bromine producer ICL Industrial Products.