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XPS and the circular economy

The EU defines a circular economy as “a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible”. With this process, the life cycle of products is extended while waste is reduced to a minimum. 

A circular economy in building and construction

According to the World Economic Forum, the engineering and construction industry is the world’s largest consumer of raw materials. Accordingly, a circular economy in this sector is crucial. A circular economy requires systemic innovation throughout the value chain and across important life cycle stages of a building: (1) material and component manufacture, (2) design and planning and (3) end-of-life.

Ongoing development activities focus on improving design to achieve easy product disassembly and recycling, as well as modularity and standardisation. While XPS is a very durable material, various recovery options are available at the end of its useful life, from systematic reuse and recycling to energy recovery.

Exiba is a member of the PolyStyreneLoop, a cooperative company aiming to recycle polystyrene foams such as XPS from building and construction uses. The project, supported by the EU through the LIFE Financial instrument, is developing a demonstration plant to assess the feasibility of recycling polystyrene foams containing legacy substances, using a different technology to the usual mechanical recycling.