EPS – expanded polystyrene – is a lightweight and environmentally friendly material consisting of 98% air and 2% polystyrene (plastic). In Denmark, it is known under the brand name Flamingo.
- EPS is 100% recyclable, which is why EPS-branchen has been running the industry’s own recycling scheme since 1995, where members of EPS-branchen have taken used EPS transport packaging for recycling and reuse.
- Since 1995, the scheme has ensured recycling of approx. 18% of the transport packaging produced and up to 38% of the EPS transport packaging that has not been exported.(1) Unfortunately, the way the scheme is organised does not ensure optimal recycling of other types of used EPS.
- The used EPS packaging has either been granulated and recycled in production or compacted and sent for recycling.
- For every kilo of EPS recycled and reused, we have reduced CO2 emissions by over 5 kilos. As a result, we have reduced CO2 emissions by over 350,000 kilos per year on average since 1995.
- However, transport packaging does not form a significant part of EPS production. It consists of insulation and other packaging including EPS fish boxes, which are also recycled to a large extent.(2)
- Since 1995, there has been a significant increase in the number of municipalities that collect EPS for recycling. In 1995, no municipalities collected EPS, while in 2015 there were 8 municipalities. In 2018, the figure had risen to 17 and in January 2020, 30 municipalities were collecting, while 17 municipalities have announced that they were going to collect. Thus, EPS-branchen expects EPS to be collected in all municipalities by the end of 2021.(3)
- At the same time, EPS is increasingly being collected from the business sector through compaction and sale of the used EPS.
- This change in collection patterns makes EPS-branchen want to meet customer wishes while ensuring increased recycling and reuse of EPS.
- At the same time, from 2024, expanded producer responsibility for packaging will be implemented. It will be the customers who are covered by the scheme, and therefore EPS-branchen’s solution must ensure that the customers’ needs with regard to future legislation are supported as best as possible.
Therefore, the scheme will be expanded and modernised from March 2020.
- More specifically, used EPS should no longer be returned in the sacks of the organisation, but rather it must be arranged between the customer and the supplier as to how the EPS can be returned as best as possible. This ensures higher quality of the collected material.
- In addition, the scheme is being expanded so that future members of the organisation will also have the opportunity to receive used EPS other than just transport packaging.
- A member of the organisation makes individual agreements with the customer on how this is ensured in the best and most effective way.
- EPS-branchen also guides and assists the business sector in establishing effective EPS loops so that EPS is not only 100% recyclable, but we also ensure that it is 100% recycled. E.g. EPS-branchen has initiated cooperation with Northern Denmark Region’s Netværk for Bæredygtig Erhvervsudvikling NordDanmark regarding increased recycling of EPS.(4)
(1) Own calculations based on reporting to the scheme.
(2) See example, https://eps-airpop.dk/2019/11/eps-fiskekassens-liv-fra-foedsel-til-grav-og-genopstandelse/ and https://www.tvmidtvest.dk/artikel/laver-fiskekasser-om-til-genbrugsplastik
(3) EPS industry’s count.
(4) See example, https://nben.dk/2019/02/nbe-og-eps-branchen-indleder-samarbejde & https://nben.dk/2019/07/foerste-moede-om-eps-loops-var-en-oejenaabner