The European EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Industry is committed to the circular economy. EPS is after all 100% recyclable and widely recycled throughout Europe. There may be different requirements for EPS Cycle in different countries as waste regulation varies. However there are a set of minimum requirements for the use of EPS Cycle by EUMEPS’ National Associations.
EPS is a material that is used for both construction and packaging. The collection and sorting pathways for the various applications differ, as may recycling solutions. A common recycling path for all EPS applications is take-back of surplus materials, which can be recycled directly into production of new materials at the converter site.
The material that is taken back is recycled together with production waste and can make up to a certain percentage of the EPS material in a new product. The recycled content rate of material from EPS Cycle depends on the requirements of the application areas (e.g., thermal conductivity, compressive strength). EPS Cycle describes the circulatory system for old and new EPS and includes the various recycling and utilization methods. It is primarily a pan-European take-back system for EPS materials, where EPS manufacturers (converters) offer to take back EPS materials from their own costumers, primarily offcuts from construction sites and packaging, and ensure that the material is recycled into new EPS products. A higher recycled content rate for EPS is achievable when combining take-back material with rEPS raw materials, which are produced from recycled EPS.
EPS Cycle in every country is operated by the National EPS Association responsible for the relevant application i.e., packaging or construction. For a National Association to join EPS Cycle it is required to meet the following minimum requirements for the take-back system. In some countries the take-back system may have additional requirements.
The take-back scheme covers EPS material from the converter and can be returned to the same converter under the EPS Cycle scheme. Converters may organize a regional or national scheme as long as it follows the below requirements:
The following EPS composite materials can be included in the National EPS Cycle scheme should the National Association choose so. Take-back of EPS composite materials are not a requirement, but is encouraged, should the converter be able to ensure the materials in a circular economy.
Use of the EPS Cycle Trademark can only be granted to converters through their National Association. The National Association is granted rights to the use of the EPS Cycle Trademark by the EPS Cycle Steering Group, of which the German IVH is a born member as the proprietor of the EPS Cycle Trademark. The Steering Group of the EPS Cycle consists of several representatives from within the EPS value chain and is self-supplementing and the Steering Group decides on its own regulations.
Changes in the minimum requirements for EPS Cycle can only be made in the case of unanimity of the National Associations, which have joined the EPS Cycle collective. An exemption to this requirement can be made if changes in the minimum requirements are necessary due to legal or compliance reasons. If so the changes are agreed by a majority of the Steering Group.
EPS Cycle is a Trademark covering EPS take back. The trademark does not cover XPS insulation or other insulation materials. It is however accepted that where the National EPS Association also covers XPS insulation they can choose to include take back of XPS insulation materials under their national scheme. The minimum requirements for XPS insulation take back should match the above requirements. If XPS Insulation is covered by the National Association take back scheme, then it can be referred to as XPS insulation take back in collaboration with EPS Cycle.