Styrofoam Packaging based on Chemically Recycled Plastics

What began with a pilot project at the end of 2019 is now culminating in a successful cooperation: starting April 1, 2021, BSH Hausgeräte GmbH will for the first time use styrofoam, in the production of which a raw material made from chemically recycled plastic waste has been used, as the packaging material for selected large appliances, particularly those of the luxury brand Gaggenau.

BSH is initially testing the Styrofoam packaging made from recycled material at its production site in Dillingen. The aim is to use such resource-saving packaging for all large appliances worldwide. Since the end of 2020, the company says it has been developing and manufacturing all products at its sites worldwide in a CO2-neutral manner. “But that’s not enough for us. We, as a society, and therefore we, as a company, need to move away from the throwaway mentality and towards more awareness of raw materials and materials. Turning old into new and thus avoiding waste is therefore a core element of BSH’s circular economy approach,” says Silke Maurer, Chief Operating Officer of BSH Hausgeräte GmbH. “By using Styrofoam packaging for which raw materials from chemical recycling are used, we are making an active contribution to our sustainability goals and to the circular economy across industries. We are pleased to have BASF, a long-standing, experienced partner, at our side to help us achieve these goals,” Maurer added.

Packaging in virgin material quality

Due to its manufacturing process, “Styropor Ccycled” has the same properties as conventional Styrofoam. This means that the packaging properties such as very good shock absorption and high compressive strength, which are essential for protecting sophisticated household appliances, are retained. In the production of the packaging foam, which has been known for 70 years, fossil raw materials are just replaced by the required amount of so-called pyrolysis oil, which is extracted by BASF partner companies from plastic waste that would otherwise be recycled for energy or landfilled. BASF uses this oil to produce new plastics at the beginning of the value chain.

Since recycled and fossil raw materials mix in production and cannot be distinguished from each other, the recycled portion is allocated to “Styropor Ccycled” using a mass balance approach. Compared to conventional Styropor, the production of “Styropor Ccycled” packaging can thus save at least 50 percent CO2.

“By using products from our ChemCycling project, our partner BSH is actively helping to ensure that plastics are recycled after their use phase and fed back into the material cycle“, says Klaus Ries, head of BASF’s Styrenics business in Europe.

In the future, the cooperation between BASF and BSH will be further expanded to examine the use of alternative raw materials along additional value chains and to find solutions to close the plastics loop in these areas. This includes looking at further recycling processes. Since unpolluted Styrofoam packaging waste can be recycled very well mechanically, this type of recycling is already widespread today and will be further intensified in the coming years.