Overcoming challenges to recycle EPS fish boxes into new food-grade packaging
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) has very good insulation, protection and safety properties, making it suited for food contact packaging. Some 335 000 tonnes/year of EPS are used for this purpose in the EU, but only 25% is recycled, while 30% is incinerated and the rest landfilled. The low recycling rate is due to the difficulties in removing food residues and odours from waste PS. In particular fish EPS boxes, although 100% recyclable, mostly end up in landfills (45-50% in Europe and 55-60% in Spain).
The three-year (2017-2020) LIFE EPS SURE project aims to offer a technically, environmentally and economically viable solution that allows waste EPS fish boxes to be collected, stored, pre-treated and converted into new PS food contact packaging.
Expected environmental benefits:
- 70% reduction of landfilled EPS fish boxes in Spain and 50% reduction in Italy, the UK and Greece, in the next 3-5 years of the project implementation
- 80% reduction of landfilled EPS boxes in the 5-10 years of the project implementation in other countries
- reduced consumption of raw materials such as polystyrene
- water saving and reduction of energy consumption
- reduction of CO2 emissions and mitigation of climate change
- litter reduction.
Expected economic and social benefits:
- Creation of new jobs
- Promotion of innovative plastic recycling processes
- Commitment through the whole value chain.