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; 55-60% in Spain).
This three-year (2017-2020) LIFE EPS SURE project, co-financed by the European Commission, aims to offer a technically, environmentally and economically viable solution that allows EPS fish box waste to be collected, stored, pre-treated (compaction, briquetting, washing) and converted into new PS food contact packaging (for yoghurt and milk), thus closing the loop and managing one of the most difficult packaging flows in Europe. This aims to boost Circular Economy and to avoid LITTERING.
As part of the continuation of the project, partners plan to go on working on the process implementation all around EU in order to reduce the 80% of landfilled EPS boxes in Europe in the following 5-10 years after the project execution by the introduction of the project process in other EU countries, such as Italy, Greece or Portugal.