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VOBU study "Specification for material recycling of EPS and XPS insulation materials"

Content background

According to the federal government's environmental targets, the proportion of secondary raw materials used should be massively increased by 2030. There is great potential in the construction industry for plastic insulation materials. In Switzerland, most of the plastic insulation waste consisting of expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) is currently recycled thermally rather than materially.

This is partly due to the flame retardant HBCD, which was used until 2015 and subsequently banned, and partly due to logistical and financial challenges.

swisspor AG has now developed a process that allows EPS and XPS insulation materials to be mechanically recycled and HBCD to be neutralized in the process. In addition, the CreaSolv process has been available for some time, which also enables EPS insulation materials to be recycled by dissolving the polystyrene and then removing the flame retardant.

At present, however, only insulation waste without HBCD, especially offcuts from new construction or production waste, is recycled. The recycling of insulation waste from deconstruction (post-consumption) is associated with various hurdles, particularly of a financial nature. Various measures can be taken to increase the recycling rate and keep these raw materials in the cycle as secondary materials. An official requirement for the recycling of EPS and XPS insulation boards could be one such measure.

Our mission

On behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), we work together with BSS Volkswirtschaftliche Beratung AG to determine the environmental, social and economic impact of such a requirement. This is done as part of a study in accordance with the guidelines of the "Economic Assessment of Environmental Measures" (VOBU).  

The first step is to define the measure as specifically as possible. In cooperation with stakeholders from the industry and the administration, it is determined how a recycling target could be implemented.

The impact model can be developed using the measure design created. Based on this model, the effects are analyzed and evaluated using various methods. Contact with industry and the authorities is also maintained here.

Finally, the effects are synthesized in a final report and proposals for action are drawn up.

Contact person

Dr. Maja Wiprächtiger(maja.wipraechtiger@realcycle.ch, +41 44 537 82 81)

Client

Federal Office for the Environment

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