Recycling construction and demolition waste

Clean EPS construction waste, such as offcuts, can be reprocessed by the original EPS supplier or other recycler.

EPS demolition waste may contain the flame retardant HBCD depending on its age. HBCD is a brominated flame retardant (Hexabromocyclododecane) included in the manufacture of some expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation foam boards and blocks since the 1970s. Regulations derived from the Stockholm Convention and the 1998 POPs Protocols (enacted via REACH) require safe disposal of materials containing HBCD from 2015. It is believed that approximately 40% of all EPS insulation boards and blocks used in construction since the 1970s contained HBCD, manufactured in a wide range of styles, sizes, colours and thicknesses that are commonly unmarked and can be difficult to visually identify.

Production of HBCD in the EU ceased in the fourth quarter of 2016 and raw material suppliers of expandable bead in the EU changed to newer flame retardants. Converters changed to the new formulations with a short grace period to allow run down of stocks of boards in the supply chain.

EPS products installed in buildings after mid 2017 can be assumed to be HBCD-free.

Where buildings constructed before this date are demolished care must be taken to ensure that the EPS is HBCD free either by testing or tracking a paper trail. If in doubt these materials must be treated as if HBCD is present and destroyed by incineration or irreversibly transformed by means such as solvent extraction. (SeeĀ (NOT landfilled)


Waste Stream Briefing Note published in July 2016