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 (European Manufacturers of Expanded Polystyrene association)’ National Association.

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 utilisation 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 organise a regional or national scheme as long as it follows the below requirements:

Material requirements
  • Clean materials can be returned as part of EPSCycle. Clean means: does not include tape, labels or other non-EPS substances, odor-free, does not contain non-EPS/XPS plastic foams.

  • Materials included in EPSCycle are:
    • White EPS for packaging
    • White EPS for construction
    • Grey EPS for packaging
    • Grey EPS for construction

  • Each of the above fractions are to be sorted in separate bags, unless otherwise agreed with the receiving converter. (See below for special agreements).

  • Material is to be sorted into bags designated by the converter.

  • Bags are to be closed in accordance with designated requirements of the converter. It is recommended that these bags include the EPS Cycle logo.
Delivery options
  • Converters agree to receive all EPS waste as described above from their customers at the designated converter or a location otherwise agreed.

  • Converters agree to engage in reverse logistic collection of EPS and Waste as described above. I.e., collection of sorted EPS in combination with delivery of new order. (See requirements for new order below).

  • Converters agree to organise order collection of the above for reasonable amounts of EPS waste. Converters are obliged to clearly specify, what they define as reasonable prior to order. Cost of transport is not included in the take-back scheme.
Requirements for new pick-up order
  • Pick up of EPS waste under the scheme is based on reverse logistics. A pick-up is to be scheduled as soon as possible. Time frame for such requirements to be specified by converter and customer prior to first delivery.

  • If there is no recurring delivery of EPS from the converter to the buyer, then the converter either agrees to receive the EPS waste at the factory/designated delivery point or to organize transport at expense of material buyer.
  • Receipt of clean EPS in accordance with Material Requirements is free of charge.

  • A pre-determined fee can be charged if clean materials are mixed e.g.., White EPS packaging with Grey EPS for insulation. The fee is for each bag in the received shipment.

  • An additional pre-determined fee can be collected if the materials are not clean.

  • Sorting fees are set by the converter prior to receipt.
Other terms
  • The converter may install an EPS compacter if agreed between the parties.

  • It is recommended that a stand is used to keep bags for EPS waste in place. The converter will recommend what type of stand is used based on the bag requirements. The converter may lend or lease a stand to the user of the EPS material.
EPS Composite materials

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.

  • EPS composite products can be returned as a part of EPS Cycle under the condition that the converter indicates that the EPS can be separated from the non-EPS substances.
  • EPS composite products containing PS coating can be returned as a part of EPS Cycle under the condition that the converter ensures the material is recycled.
    Use of the Trademark

    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.

    XPS insulation

    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.