Polystyrene Loop, the Terneuzen, the Netherlands-based initiative for the closed loop recycling of EPS insulation materials, has restarted operations.
The pilot plant, which went into bankruptcy on 10 March of this year, only nine months after opening in June 2021, recycles EPS insulation materials from demolition and refurbishment work. The technology is based on the concept of selective extraction, known as the CreaSolv Process - a process developed around two decades ago by CreaCycle GmbH and the Fraunhofer IVV institute in Freising, Germany. The process, in which the polystyrene is dissolved, is a physical one.
The Polystyrene Loop initiative originally started five years ago in the form of a cooperative with more than 70 members from more than 15 European countries. The members represent almost the entire European polystyrene foam value chain. On the way to transforming the cooperative into a business, the consequences of the corona pandemic, combined with the rising costs of energy proved fatal for a successful start-up. As one of these members pointed out, the technology was not the problem. “Other stumbling blocks were encountered that had nothing to do with the technology - the technology definitely works - that were unable to be overcome.”
Now, a consortium of German companies has announced that it has purchased the Dutch plant out of bankruptcy. The newly established company PS Loop B.V. is a 100% subsidiary of the GEC Group, an acronym standing for German EPS Converters, and comprising the German EPS converters Bachl, Brohlburg and Rygol. The consortium is supported by the EPS Raw Material Suppliers BASF, Bewi, Sunpor, Synthos and Unipol as well as the Austrian EPS converter Hirsch and the flame retardant manufacturer ICL working together in the European umbrella organisation EUMEPS.
As the target dates approach, the amount of pressure and legislation aiming to stimulate the transition to the circular economy is steadily increasing. This industry initiative fulfils an important mandate from the European Commission in implementing the recycling targets for plastics as part of the EU's circular economy strategy.