The EPS industry shifts to low carbon energy sources

Brus­sels — Pro­duc­ing Expand­ed Poly­styrene (EPS) is a task that requires a lot of ener­gy. Smart Pack­ag­ing Europe mem­bers have been doing their best to be smart about the ener­gy they use to pro­duce EPS. Over the last few years, the indus­try has tak­en dras­tic mea­sures to ensure that ener­gy used is as cli­mate friend­ly as possible.

Since the ear­ly 2000s, many EPS pro­duc­ers have invest­ed in expen­sive sys­tems that make their plants bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment. Many of such sys­tems are key for the effi­cient and more cli­mate friend­ly pro­duc­tion of EPS in Europe.

The instal­la­tion of solar sys­tems in plants and recy­cling facil­i­ties through­out the con­ti­nent is one of the most effi­cient meth­ods to boost the avail­abil­i­ty of green ener­gy by the indus­try. In Aus­tria, for instance, the HIRSCH Ser­vo Group has been able to under­go a con­tin­u­ous reduc­tion of its eco­log­i­cal foot­print through large-scale invest­ments into pho­to­volta­ic sys­tems as well as ener­gy-sav­ing light­ing, heat recov­ery, and ener­gy mon­i­tor­ing. The new 6,350 m² pho­to­volta­ic sys­tem on the roofs of the HIRSCH Ser­vo Group’s Glanegg site, with an approx­i­mate out­put of 1 GWh of renew­able elec­tric­i­ty annu­al­ly, has been par­tic­u­lar­ly key for its green tran­si­tion. Via the Kelag grid, HIRSCH Ser­vo Group’s sur­plus elec­tric­i­ty also reach­es pri­vate house­holds, which are sup­plied with renew­able energy.

Anoth­er Smart Pack­ag­ing Europe mem­ber, Aeropack devel­oped an ener­gy effi­cien­cy pro­gramme with a sim­i­lar solar sys­tem in its facil­i­ty in Grün­stadt, Ger­many. This pro­gramme start­ed more than a decade ago, and ever since has been upgrad­ed many times. One of its upgrades was the pro­vi­sion of the lat­est ener­gy sup­ply in the field of steam gen­er­a­tion as well as the allo­ca­tion of the lat­est air and vac­u­um tech­nol­o­gy to improve its effi­cien­cy. All such efforts allow for a more sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of EPS.

Yet some EPS pro­duc­ers have gone even fur­ther. Some have invest­ed and cre­at­ed new com­pa­nies to devel­op and imple­ment zero-emis­sion tech­nolo­gies and elec­tric­i­ty pro­duc­tion from renew­able sources for them­selves. One of them is the Syn­thos Group in Poland.

Apart from hav­ing its pho­to­volta­ic farm, the Syn­thos Group has also found­ed Syn­thos Green Ener­gy. A high­ly inno­v­a­tive com­pa­ny, this firm cur­rent­ly focus­es on two projects: off­shore wind farms and small reac­tor nuclear pow­er. They already sub­mit­ted four appli­ca­tions to the Pol­ish Min­is­ter of Mar­itime Econ­o­my for a per­mit to start off­shore projects. If approved, the off­shore wind farms would have a total out­put capac­i­ty of 1260 MW for all the Group’s facil­i­ties. In terms of nuclear ener­gy, the com­pa­ny has become a strate­gic part­ner of GE Hitachi in BWRX-300 tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment, a Small Mod­u­lar Reac­tor (SMR).

Yet, sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion begins long before turn­ing raw mate­ri­als into EPS with green ener­gy. The equip­ment at EPS loca­tions plays a major role when it comes to pro­tect­ing resources. Many Smart Pack­ag­ing Europe mem­bers are deeply com­mit­ted to effi­cient ener­gy man­age­ment and con­tin­u­ous­ly opti­mize the ener­gy foot­print with a vari­ety of mod­ern­iza­tion measures.

Our mem­ber Storopack, for exam­ple, saves 850 met­ric tons of CO2 a year in their Krum­bach loca­tion thanks to more effi­cient ener­gy man­age­ment and a wide vari­ety of mod­ern­iza­tion mea­sures. Anoth­er mod­erni­sa­tion by Storopack has been the instal­la­tion of new LED lamps at many loca­tions. As a result, Storopack is sav­ing 45,991 kilo­watt-hours a month. These are lit­tle steps com­pared to Syn­thos wind farm projects, yet every lit­tle step that com­pa­nies can take for­ward to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment is valuable.

All the above exam­ples are clear demon­stra­tions of the will­ing­ness of the EPS indus­try to adapt to a more cli­mate-friend­ly world. From Syn­thos off­shore wind farms and nuclear reac­tors to the sim­ple yet effi­cient mod­erni­sa­tion mea­sures by Storopack, every step puts the indus­try clos­er to achiev­ing its envi­ron­men­tal tar­gets. Going for­wards we will see many oth­ers join­ing the ones above and shift to low car­bon ener­gy sources.

Solar pan­els are used in many of EPS facilities
AuthorDaniel Costa