CreaSolv® Pilot Plant in Holland (NL) - EPS Recycling with POP-Separation

A project team, consisting of the European Association of Manufacturers of EPS (EUMEPS), 2018.05.28 EPS construction wastethe EPS producers Sunpor and Synbra Technology, as well as the flame-retardant producer ICL-IP Europe set the goal, to build a CreaSolv® Pilot plant, in order to recycle External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (ETICS) and interior thermal insulation systems with flame retardants in a way that the today banned hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) is removed and recovered polystyrene meets the Basel POP Guidelines1).


2016.05 EPS Insulation in Buildings-kSince more than 50 years EPS is used as insulation material2) and gained for example in Germany a share of over 80% at exterior walls3). With an expected lifetime of 40 - 60 years4) this will lead to increasing EPS deconstruction waste volumes containing HBCDD in the medium term, which have to be treated as „dangerous waste“, because until 2015 flame retardants were used, which are banned today. In future mechanical recycling is no longer possible for such wastes and only a costly incineration remains.

ICL-IP Terneuzen-kOn 28th October 2015 a total of 23 representatives from various sectors of the European EPS Industry, Dutch national and provincial authorities and EPS recyclers met for a „Kick-Off Meeting“ with the motto “Demo plant for sustainable recycling of EPS containing HBCDD including bromine recovery” originating from construction waste becoming available in the near future. This process can be seen as the most sustainable form of raw material feedstock recycling contributing and stimulating to a more circular economy. The group decided for the CreaSolv® Process based on the concept “selective extraction” that has also been applied in the POLYSOLVE Project.  

The „POLYSOLVE“ Projekt5) (2011 – 2014), supported by the EU with € 1.5 Million, followed a similar approach and was aimed at “developing a new and novel process by which an environmental friendly and selective solvent is used to dissolve and recycle EPS and PC (polycarbonate) waste” (quote). The technology is based on the “HiPerPol” process6) from TWI (The Welding Insitute), financially supported and developed in  the UK (2008 - 2011), and works with ionic liquids and „green solvents”, which are selected with the help of a computer program and for which a “Ionic liquid pilot plant” has already been built. 
Because of problems with the drying step, Fraunhofer IVV was called into the group. At the end the tested solvents turned out to be very expensive7) and the recycled polymers did not meet the required qualities8).

Similarities with the CreaSolv® Process and its concept are noticeable, but the „selective extraction“ is an established chemical separating process and therefore in a positive sense it can be seen as a confirmation of the CreaSolv® Concept.


PolyStyrene Loop Cooperative

On 28th October 2015 it was decided to form „PolyStyrene Loop“ as a Cooperative under Dutch law, in order to realize the CreaSolv® Recycling concept at the Terneuzen site, where ICL-IP already runs its bromine recovery unit.

In November 2017 the Inauguration Meeting of the PolyStyreneLoop Cooperatief with almost 60 members took place in Amsterdam. The members (entities and trade associations) from 13 countries cover the whole polystyrene value chain. The funding of the project has been secured:

  • The Cooperative raised € 2.1 million.
  • The EU LIFE Programme grants a subsidy of € 2.7 million over 4 years.
  • The RABO Bank confirms a loan of € 4.5 million.

2016.05 PolyStyrene Loop logoMore than 80 members, supporters and stakeholders participated at the General Assembly. Kestutis Sadauskas (Director DG Environment of the European Commission) characterized the pilot plant as "Bullseye"-Project, because it is an important building block of the Circulat Economy, thus creating an example for the Plastic Industry.

In order to support the Cooperative in an optimum way Fraunhofer IVV, CreaCycle and EPC Engineering Consulting GmbH decided, to combine their competencies in a cooperation, in which EPC will be the primary contact, because the plant engineering is a focal point.

2016.05 CreaSolv Pilot plantThe Basic Engineering for the CreaSolv® Demo plant to be built at the premises of ICL-IP in Terneuzen will be carried out by EPC under license from Fraunhofer IVV and CreaCycle will supply the proprietary CreaSolv® Formulations.

In the “Poly-Ressource” project (2010) it was already shown that the CreaSolv® Process removes flame retardants from electro(nic) waste (WEEE) and in a recent pilot test carried out on behalf of Sunpor, it was demonstrated that the HBCDD removal efficiency of the CreaSolv® Process was >99,7% and the recycled polystyrene (HBCDD < 100ppm) was converted to new prime Lambdapor® EPS.


CreaSolv® Process - Technical Guidelines of the Basel Convention

In order to build a demo plant with an annual recycling capacity of 3.000 tons for HBCDD containing EPS with bromine recovery available by 201810), the “CreaSolv® Technique” needs to be incorporated in the Basel Convention Technical Guidelines for HBCDD containing polystyrene foam as an additional End of Life (EOL) option besides incineration.

On 30th May 2016 PolyStyrene Loop representatives participated at the 10th Meeting of the “Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal” at the Headquarter of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenia and presented the CreaSolv® Process11). They got support for the project from most of the global parties including NGOs. At the 13th Meeting of the Basel Convention in Geneva (24th April - 5th May 2017) it was finally agreed upon to include the dissolution process for the separation of polystyrene and HBCDD as BAT (Best Available Technique) for waste treatment, based on information about the PolyStyrene Loop with the CreaSolv® Process in the sections "Pretreatment" (Dissolution, sedimentation and distillation) and "Hazardous Waste Incineration" (regarding destruction of HBCDD) of the Technical Guideline20).



In August 2016 the study „EPS/XPS Recycling in the Construction Sector“ on behalf of the Austrian Ministry for the Environment, the Environmental Agency of Upper Austria and Sunpor was finalized and is available on the homepage of the Government of Upper-Austria15). The comparison of the CreaSolv® Process with EPS waste incineration shows that recycling makes economic sense.

March 2017 – TÜV Rheinland conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study22) comparing incineration with physic-chemical recycling with the intend to validate the CreaSolv® Process as an additional credible end of life option for ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems). This study concludes that the PSLoop process shows a lower environmental impact in the categories climate change, eutrophication (freshwater), summer smog, resource depletion (fossil elements), human toxicity (non-cancer, cancer) and freshwater ecotoxicity in comparison to incineration with energy recovery. Such a performance can be expected for a solvent-based recycling process, as shown by the Vinyloop® Eco-footprint study from 2013. An update of the LCA is recommended when the pilot plant phase has been finished.


2017.06 Hess. Energiespar EPS Youtube 1June 2017 - The Ministry for Economy, Energy, Traffic and Regional Development of the Federal State Hesse in Germany informs about the CreaSolv® Technology within the framework of its energy saving project "hessische energiespar-aktion"19). Please click on the picture to start the video. CreaSolv® Process.


GERMANY – No “Circular Economy” for EPS Insulation Waste containing HBCDD
("You shall know them by their deeds!" – 1st John 2, 1-6)

Effective 30th September 2016 thermal insulation waste with more than 0,1% HBCDD was classified as “dangerous” by the Federal Council in Germany. Based on the good utilization of incineration plants and the complex handling of the lightweight heat-value-rich polystyrene waste12), operators had little interest in applying for the necessary permits and declined acceptance, especially based on a large scale test resulting in the recommendation that EPS/XPS waste content should not exceed 2% of the total weight to be burned13). Even plants with permits were no longer willing to process additional volumes14). Because the only available method of disposal is incineration, it came to a bottleneck and prices reached €800-1.000 per ton and more.

According to information from the German Federal Government an amount of 42.000 tons of polystyrene insulation waste already needs to be dealt with (BT-Drs.18/4129)16) and after one realized the dimension of the problem, it came not as surprise that the Federal Council decided on 16th December 2016 that the “dangerous” classification for EPS waste with HBCDD was suspended for 1 year.
The Minister for Environment and Construction Barbara Hendricks immediately welcomed this decision17), because it should not be forgotten, that Germany introduced the “Heating Value Clause” in 2012 that equals the status of energy recovery (= incineration) of waste with high heating value (= plastics) with recycling, so that plastic waste is preferably incinerated and not recycled.

But if prices are too high and too many incineration plants generally refuse to accept problematic waste, this strategy is of course at risk. Because Mrs. Hendricks as Minister for Construction at the same time has to implement the "Energy Saving Act" (prescribing thermal insulation), expensive incineration of EPS-insulation waste is a cost issue for renovations and plastic recycling leads to a conflict of interests.

With a chronological fit with the preparation conferences for the 2017 Climate Change Conference in Bonn and the ceasing of the “Heating Value Clause”  effective  1st June 2017 the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) launched a summary proceeding for a binding regulation for the incineration of EPS insulation waste containing HBCDD with a hearing by 18th June 2017. The AG-EHDA (Action Group for a safe and professional disposal of EPS Insulation Waste containing HBCDD) founded in April 2017 obviously had been heard very fast. The approval of the Federal Council on 7th July 2017 21) was pure routine, in order to make the disposal (= incineration) of Styropor® insulation boards “easier and cheaper” (Quote).  In future insulation waste with HBCD will not be classified as “hazardous waste”. The topics of recycling or circular economy are not part of the approval and are obviously not considered as important.

Since 1994 the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) has a “Contact Point Basel Convention”  and one may assume that they are aware of the inclusion of recycling as an alternative to the incineration of insulation material containing HBCDD. But can one expect from a Minister for the Environment, who wept for joy about the agreement at the Climate Summit in Paris 2016, that she recognizes the potential of additional savings of energy and resources with recycling as part of a functioning “Circular Economy”18) and supports it? “Cheap” often only means, that the cost has to be carried by someone else (e.g. Diesel gate, cheap too small tanks for AdBlue, cheap meat, etc.). But it is just the way that Germany is a country with lots of incineration plants and on top recycling means competition for plastic producers.


  • Airpop® is a registered trademark of EUMEPS
  • Lambdapor® is a registered trademark of Sunpor GmbH
  • Styropor® is a registered trademark of BASF SE

 EPC - Flyer "EPS Recycling Technology"


PolyStyrene Loop Homepage - Link

PolyStyrene Loop Foundation Newsletter



  1. EUMEPS press release November 2015: Non-profit foundation under Dutch law „PolyStyrene Loop“.- Link
  2. Isobow Information last check on 20.05.2016
  3. IVH (Industrieverband Hartschaum e.V.) URL: last check on 20.05.2016.
  4. Hessisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (Hrsg.): Wärmedämmung von Außenwänden mit dem Wärmeverbundsystem, November 2012, S. 8
  5. Poly-SOLVE URL: last check on 22.05.2016
  6. HiPerPol URL: last check on 22.05.2016
  7. M. Schlummer, Hessischer Energieberatertag 2015; „CreaSolv®: Das Recyclingverfahren für Polystyrol“ Link
  8. Advances in Recycling and Waste Management - published May 15, 2017 - M. Schlummer, A. Mäurer, S. Wagner, A. Berrang, T.Siebert, F. Knappich – „Recycling of flame retarded waste polystyrene foams (EPS and XPS) to PS granules free of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)" - Link
  9. PolyStyrene Loop Pressemitteilung Mai 2016 “100% recycling of Polystyrene insulation soon to be demonstrated - wide spread industry support for “PolyStyrene Loop”. Link
  10. PolyStyrene Loop: CreaSolv® Leaflet Mai 2016 – Link
  11. PolyStyrene Loop presentation at 10th Basel Convention Working Group Meeting in Nairobi, Kenia on 30th May 2016: “CreaSolv® process with BRU destroying the POP substance HBCDD waste and recycling Polystyrene” - Link
  12. ITAD Interessengemainschaft der Thermischen Abfallbehandlungsanlagen in Deutschland e.V. – „Verwertung von Polystyrol-Schaumstoffabfällen mit HBCD“ – letzter Check 17.09.2016 Link
  13. Frank E Mark et al „Destruction of the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane in a full-scale municipal solid waste incinerator“ in Waste management & Research 2015, Vol. 33(2) 165-174 Link  
  14. EUWID – Recycling und Entsorgung 16.09.2016: “HBCD-Entsorgungsengpaß: ITAD fordert pragmatische und umsetzbare Lösungen“ letzter check 19.09.2016 Link 
  15. Ingenieurbüro für Techn. Chemie, DI Dr. Friedrich Eibensteiner et al, „STREC EPS/XPS Recycling im Baubereich“ Endbericht vom 30.8.2016 - Link 
  16. ITAD Q&A – Entsorgung von HBCD-haltigem Polystyrol (Styropor) vom 13. Oktober 2016 - Link
  17. Baulinks „Alles wieder gut? Bundesrat will befristete Ausnahmeregelung für HBCD-haltige Dämmstoffe“ vom 16.12.2016 - Link
  18. Stellungnahme der deutschen Umweltverbände DUH, NABU, BUND und DNR zum Referentenentwurf der „Verordnung zur Überwachung von nicht gefährlichen Abfällen mit persistenten organischen Schadstoffen und zur Änderung der Abfallverzeichnis-Verordnung“ vom 27. April 2017. - Link
  19. Hessisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Energie, Verkehr und Landesentwicklung - "hessische energiespar-aktion" Homepage, zuletzt abgerufen am 18.06.2017 - Link
  20. Basel Convention - Technical Guideline - UNEP/CHW.13/6/Add.1/Rev.1 dated 29 June 2017 - Link
  21. Beschluß des Bundesrates (959. Sitzung am 7.7.2017)  Beschluß 488/17 – Top 81 – Entsorgung von Styropor-Dämmplatten – Link
  22. 2018.03.16 Results of a Life Cycle Assessment for End of Life Treatment of Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) from External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (ETICS) - Link
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