While we don’t often talk about expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam beads, it’s worth noting that this material — often vilified as “non-recyclable” – is made, in part, with chemically recycled PS and is now used commercially by Ekornes, a Norwegian manufacturer of high-end designer furniture. Ekorne’s use of BASF’s Styropor Ccycled EPS represents the first project in Scandinavia that contributes to the sustainability strategy of all companies by using protective packaging made from chemically recycled plastic waste.
Photo credit: BASF and Ekornes
Since November 2021, Ekornes has been using EPS protective packaging which has a lower carbon footprint than virgin materials while preserving the same properties. This is achieved by replacing fossil resources with raw materials recycled at the start of production. BASF supplies Styropor Ccycled to Vartdal Plast, which converts the material into molded packaging parts for Ekornes’ Stressless furniture brand.
Due to its manufacturing process, Styropor Ccycled would have the same properties as conventional Styropor. This maintains the excellent packaging properties such as exceptional shock absorption and high compressive strength, which are essential for the protection of sophisticated designer furniture. In the manufacture of packaging foams so famous for 70 years, pyrolysis oil replaces fossil raw materials.
BASF sources its oil from technology partners who use a thermochemical process called pyrolysis to transform post-consumer plastic waste that would otherwise be used for energy recovery or landfilled into this secondary raw material. BASF then uses the oil at the very beginning of the value chain to manufacture new plastics and other products. As the recycled and fossil raw materials are mixed in production and cannot be distinguished from each other, the recycled part is attributed to Styropor Cycled using a mass balance approach. The award process and the product itself have been certified by an independent auditor. Compared to conventional Styropor, at least 50% CO2 is registered in the production of Styropor Ccycled.
As for Vartdal Plast, Styropor Ccycled brings many advantages because the product is identical to the virgin material. Therefore, the production process does not need to be adjusted. The company and its products are certified according to ecoloop certification program, confirming that for the products, 100% recycled material was used as raw material. Vartdal Plast Product Manager Mounir El’Mourabit said: “We are delighted to be working with BASF and Ekornes on this project. It is a testament to our mutual commitment to a more sustainable future.
Photo credit: BASF
According to Klaus Ries, head of BASF’s Styrenic business in Europe, “Current environmental policy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving fossil resources and avoiding or using waste. By using the products of our ChemCycling project, our partner Ekornes actively contributes to the recovery of plastics after their use phase and their reinsertion into the material loop.
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