4. APRIL 2023

Styrofoam: First successes with EPS circular economy concept

Expanded polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam or EPS, is 100 percent recyclable. However, only about a quarter of it is currently recycled in the case of construction materials, and only half of it is recycled in the case of packaging. In the “EPSolutely” research project, twelve partners from the entire value chain led by Fraunhofer Austria have achieved initial success in creating a circular economy for EPS.

EPS is not only suitable as thermal insulation in house construction, but also as lightweight, shock-absorbing and thermally insulating packaging for a wide range of goods. According to the latest Conversio study, the EPS recycling rate in Austria is 26 percent for construction parts and 56 percent for packaging. However, the recycled material is often only used as a thermal insulation levelling fill. What would be desirable in terms of sustainability, on the other hand, is a genuine circular economy in which the recycled EPS is converted into equivalent raw material and fed back into the production cycle.