Annually, over 1,500,000 m3 EPS packaging is brought onto the Dutch market. By tightening quality criteria for processing and new market opportunities, a large part of this can be collected and/or processed more sustainably. Currently, less than 10% of the EPS packaging is collected registered. Quality criteria leading to the highest possible recycling, in combination with manageable collection costs are essential for municipalities according to EPS Nederland.
On 14 June 2018, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management informed VNG of the significance of carefully handling EPS flows and separately collecting and processing them in a correct manner. This is due to the possible presence of HDCC in EPS construction products. Construction polystyrene foam with an average of 0.7% HBCDD should therefore be collected separately as much as possible and processed for destruction of the HBCDD. According to the Ministry, research has shown that in particularly at municipal waste disposal sites, the separation of HBCDD-containing construction polystyrene foam and HBCDD-free packaging polystyrene foam is not optimal. This creates mixed streams whereby average concentrations above the 0.01% are found and possibly even the development of above 0.1%. These mixed streams are not allowed to be recycled (above 0.01%) or to be used in products. For this reason, it is important to apply a good separation of ‘packaging foam’ and ‘building foam’ at waste disposal sites.
EPS Nederland has taken the initiative to come up with a sustainable chain solution for discarded EPS, from collection to recycling. EPS Nederland invests in new technologies in order to have more sustainable collection and application of material reuse. The patented collection vehicle of EPS Nederland, ‘the EPS Convertor’, stimulates awareness and material reuse. By carrying out the collection and processing of EPS on site and thereby making it visible, double advantage is yielded. EPS Nederland works together with manufacturers, municipalities, collectors, processors and Nedvang. Since EPS Nederland is based on the white label principle, the service is and remains accessible to all chain partners. According to EPS, this is a primary condition for connecting chains. By sharing experiences, it can be examined how the collection and processing of EPS can take place as sustainable as possible. In cooperation with municipalities and implementing organisations, were are currently researching and testing, at a number of locations in the Netherlands, the ways in which separating, sorting, collecting, and recycling EPS can be as sustainable, efficient and effective as possible.