Expanded Polystyrene Recycling

When ENGIE was contracted to replace the cladding at Eyot House in Bermondsey, our commitment to be at the forefront of environmentally conscientious construction methods demanded a creative approach to recycling and repurposing the old expanded polystyrene (EPS) removed from the building.

The existing EWI system comprised an insulation layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) board, for which it was important to fully consider responsible disposal. Waste (particularly plastic waste) is one of the most prevalent environmental factors in the construction industry, and as there was a significant volume of EPS at Eyot House, the team were keen to divert this from landfill. Polystyrene is one of the least efficient materials to recycle, meaning that it often ends up in landfill where it can take more than a million years to decompose.

A further challenge was that for EPS to be considered for recycling, it must be thoroughly clean to avoid contamination in the recycling process. To undertake successful recycling of as much waste EPS as possible, the team needed to ensure complete removal of any render residue.

ENGIE’s operatives on site ensured that as much board as possible was cleaned appropriately by hand, before bagging it up to be sent to S and B EPS Ltd.

Once received at the recycling facility, the EPS material was sorted to guarantee it was free of contamination before being put through a grinder; breaking it back down to bead form. Following this, the deconstructed material is then suitable for reuse in the manufacture of lower grade expanded polystyrene products, such as packaging.

The efforts by both ENGIE and our subcontractors resulted in 150m3 of EPS board, equivalent to 80% of the removed material, being recycled.

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