Keeping fish fresh, all the way from the sea to the consumer. This is how BEWiSynbra started almost 40 years ago – producing fish boxes on the island of Frøya, off the coast of Norway. 

We have never stopped producing them and continue to make the boxes lighter, better and more sustainable. Our fish boxes are made from EPS –  a white foam plastic material that contains 98% air – making it perfect for transportation. 

All that air makes EPS extremely good at keeping fish cold, so it arrives in stores at almost the same temperature as when it left the sea. EPS boxes also protect the fish from shocks and impact and keep it undamaged as well as fresh, which means less food waste.

The latest version is made for transporting fish in an unbroken cold chain. Even when fish is sent all the way from the Norwegian sea too, say, Japan, the BEWiSynbra box makes sure that it’s delivered nice and fresh.

The boxes are also 100% recyclable (as is all EPS) and can be used to produce new EPS, which can be turned into new fish boxes. 

That is recycling as it should be, a closed loop. We want to become the most sustainable EPS producer. And lead the change in the industry.  

Cellular plastic is a valuable resource. BEWiSynbra – one of Europe’s largest producers of cellular plastic – works hard to ensure the maximum possible recycling of the unique material.

Cellular plastic is a collective name for a variety of different expanding plastics or expanded polystyrene (EPS). And if it is rated by many, it should be loved. What many people do not know. –  Is that EPS is a unique plastic that can be recycled, over and over again. BEWiSynbra produces EPS and has control over the entire chain – from raw material to finished product. One of the goals is to lead the change towards a circular economy for the whole EPS industry. You see it as your job to make people understand that EPS is a precious resource and fully recyclable, says Jonas Siljeskär, CEO of BEWiSynbra:

– Plastic is definitely a problem, but only if we do not recycle it. Today, EPS is thrown among ordinary garbage for incineration or landfill. 

Long before sustainability became a buzzword, BEWiSynbra has been committed to sustainability and focused on reusing EPS as much as possible.

– We were early in taking a leading position in recycling issues, and I am part of a management team that shows both decisiveness and a strong commitment to sustainability. There is a pride for what we do here, and I am triggered by the fact that we can make good results and also sustainable changes.

Undeserved bad reputation

He believes that EPS has an undeserved bad reputation. The reason for this is that people and also politicians lack facts. But EPS should not be seen as rubbish and consumable resource.

– Very few would throw away a newspaper. We are used to that being recycled, and in the same way, we want to take care of EPS. And we want to be a part of this and lead the change, even if the government does not.

– Yes, it is us as a company that must take back the resources. We push this because we, as a company, have a social responsibility, but also because we see it as a business opportunity. More and more customers are demanding recycled EPS.

EPS – beneficial durability

EPS has many sustainable advantages over alternative materials. Unlike corrugated cardboard – which can be recycled six to seven times – EPS can be recycled again and again, without end. It is also a very light material. EPS contains 98 per cent air, and the remaining two per cent consists of polystyrene, which is a pure hydrocarbon.

EPS also has excellent thermal properties and can retain both cooling and heat. Therefore, it helps reduce food waste during transport.

Collection and reuse of EPS

BEWiSynbra is investing heavily in the collection and recycling of EPS and has taken an important strategic step to achieve its sustainability goals. 

– For many years we have used recycled EPS in production, but now we do this on a completely different scale. In 2019, we implemented many measures – both to increase the collection of spent EPS and to recover it.

– Also, sustainability is a driving force in our product development. Our goal is to continually develop raw materials and products that are more sustainable, such as lighter products or Biofoam, which is a raw material made from vegetable material.

BEWiSynbra is the first to offer 100 per cent recycled EPS. The finished material does not show any quality difference. It may not be as white as the original, but so far, the response from customers has been very positive – they want to be able to show that they are using recycled material.

– Of course, companies have mixed up used and raw material in the production before. But to actively collect and recycle from the market and make new product 100 per cent from recycled material, there we are first, says Jonas Siljeskär and continues:

– We are seeing a high demand from our customers for more environmentally friendly solutions. Some customers want products made of, for example, 50 per cent recycled material, while others want 100 per cent. We will offer a range of products based on recycled materials and work with our customers – and their customers – to find solutions for more efficient collection of used EPS.

BEWiSynbra Circular

In the spring of 2019, BEWiSynbra acquired Belgian recycling company EcoFill and Danish Eurec. The reason for the acquisitions was, of course, to further strengthen the initiative to collect and recover EPS.

– We have also established a new recycling company in Portugal. We have set an ambitious goal of recycling 60,000 tonnes each year, which is about 30 per cent of our production of around 180,000 tonnes of EPS per year. At present, we recover 15,000 tonnes, which corresponds to about nine per cent. We hope to reach the goal within 3-5 years, concludes Jonas Siljeskär.

Did you know that EPS…

… Consists of 98% air and 2% raw material

… Can be recycled again and again without losing its good qualities

… Is a very light material – a cubic can be lifted with one hand

… Is optimal for insulation – both to preserve cold and heat – when air insulates

… Is shock absorbing and is therefore used for, for example, bicycle helmets and in cars

As HSEQ Manager at BEWiSynbra Denmark, Marianne F Nielsen works with Health, Safety, Environment and Quality. She has a masters in environmental technology and worked as a quality manager at SCA and with environmental issues in the borough of Greve before coming to BEWi in 2015.

How does BEWiSynbra Denmark work with sustainability?

Sustainability covers so much: recycling, saving energy, not using more raw materials than necessary, and so on. Everything counts. For instance, EPS packaging can be reused again and again. After cleaning, some of our customers reuse their packaging up to 4-5 times. Then BEWiSynbra Circular gets the used EPS to recycle and make new EPS products. 

So recycling is not a new thing at BEWiSynbra?

We have collected used EPS from our customers for more than 20 years. We recycle and reuse as much as possible for building products, and the rest is handled externally and used as insulation in concrete, for pellets etc. We have updated our Life cycle assessment to show the impact of recycled EPS, to show that it does make sense to recycle.

What is Operation Clean Sweep?

It’s an international program to keep waste and harmful substances out of the oceans. The Operation Clean Sweep initiative is another example of sustainable thinking at BEWiSynbra. All our sites have cleaning plans, and we make sure that they are followed. If EPS gets in the sewers, we have systems to collect and handle it, instead of letting it reach the environment. Sustainability and OCS have to be a team effort, not one person can be responsible, we all need to participate.

Do you work with other businesses when it comes to sustainability?

In Denmark, we have excellent cooperation with other EPS businesses through the plastic federation. They have hired a project manager, who is passionate about sustainability, household waste and recycling. The message is out and gets a lot of attention in the media, which is very good for all EPS companies in Denmark. The next challenge is to get consumers to be as committed to recycling cellular plastic as we are. The amount of packaging increases as e-commerce grows. EU has set up recycling targets, and we are doing our best to influence consumers.

What’s next for BEWiSynbra Denmark?

We are determined to become as sustainable as possible. The goal is to recycle all our own waste by the year 2025. I believe that it is a realistic goal, and we are doing our best to reach it. We are serious about this and take our responsibility. I’m proud to work in a company where sustainability is a priority.

Successful trials of BEWiSynbra’s 100% recyclable EPS.

BEWiSynbra Group recently introduced EPS made 100 per cent from recycled material. Now HIRSCH Servo Group has, as the first customer, successfully completed the first trials and produced a limited edition of packaging made of 100 per cent recycled EPS.

“The response to our 100 per cent recycled EPS has been overwhelming. Today only a small portion of EPS is reused, and an even smaller portion recycled. Our new product has the potential to change that. It is a sustainable alternative to producing EPS from virgin resources,” says Alan Moss, Managing Director of BEWiSynbra RAW.

Our customers want sustainable solutions that minimize the impact on the environment.

“We did tests on how to pre-expand raw beads made from 100 percent EPS and used the resulting EPS to produce shape- moulded parts that meet our quality specifications,” says Harald Kogler, CEO, Hirsch Servo. 

Following the successful trials, we will work even harder to supply more partners and customers with 100 per cent recycled EPS, and we’ll start commercial deliveries early next year. BEWiSynbra is successfully leading the change

Retnemt.dk has delivered boxes of groceries and food to Danish homes since 2006. And not just any boxes, but EPS-boxes from BEWiSynbra.

Retnemt and BEWiSynbra Denmark have worked together and developed boxes with just the right thickness. They have to be stackable and fit optimally on both pallets and inside trucks. It’s also essential that the temperature remains constant inside the box during transport, even during longer drives, regardless of how much (or little) food there is.

The embossed Retnemt logo on the boxes is not just branding, it makes it more likely that the boxes are returned. The fact that EPS is 100% recyclable is essential: Retnemt makes money on recycling their boxes.

They wash and reuse the boxes as long as possible (65-70% of them are reused). Boxes that are too dirty or damaged are compressed at the Retnemt site in Helsingör, recycled and turned into new EPS or XPS. Retnemt compress more than 20 tons of EPS every year and the number is rising.

Retnemt and BEWiSynbra Denmark make regular forecasts of the need for new boxes and have a setup that only require a limited extra supply at any given time. The two partners are aligned on service, price and quality. BEWiSynbra monitor the logistics daily and Retnemt know that they can rely on BEWiSynbra to deliver when business booms.

Construction of the Zalmhaventoren in Rotterdam has started. At 215 meters it will be the tallest building in the Netherlands. Two neighboring 70 meter tall buildings are also under construction.

When the entire complex is ready it will have apartments, townhouses, parking garages, offices, shops and a roof garden. Do we need to say that it needs a solid foundation that anchors it to the ground and insulates it from moisture, rot etc?
 
At Zalmhaventoren they use the strongest foundation formwork on the market: PowerKist from BEWiSynbra. It’s developed for pile foundations and reinforced with unbreakable PS strips. When the Zalmhaventoren is ready in a few years it will be on solid ground.

To us, sustainability means to care about the future and coming generations. We aim to become the most sustainable EPS producer. By managing the entire chain – from raw materials to the finished product – we can close the loop and lead the change towards a circular economy.

We collect and recycle several thousand tonnes of fish boxes, insulation and packaging. The goal is to collect every kilo of EPS through both our own and industrial recycling schemes and reuse the material to produce new EPS. The way our products are produced and recycled can be transformed into a never-ending loop where materials are maximised and waste is minimised. 

We will use more and more renewable energy from sun, wind and water. If and when new, efficient forms of renewable energy appear we are eager to try them. Waste from our production can be reused. Other waste can be turned into bio-gas.

We will reduce CO2 emissions from our transports and product deliveries. We will cut down on air travel, overhaul our corporate car policy and put demands on suppliers.

Sustainability is a joint effort and we are working with our suppliers and partners to reach our objectives.

This will make BEWiSynbra Group the most serious and trustworthy player when it comes to sustainability.

BEWiSynbra’s products are closer than many people think. They may even be in the room you’re sitting in, since we supply the building industry with a wide range of insulation products and solutions. They are mainly used in foundations, walls and roofs, but also in pools, driveways, roads and other infrastructure projects.We also produce entire building systems.

Our insulation protects buildings from moisture and mold. It keeps cold outside and heat inside, reduces energy loss and decreases energy consumption. We have developed insulation for buildings that must be energy-neutral and meet stricter insulation requirements, as well as elements that suit all regular solar panel systems.
 
Our products are easy to handle. They are quickly placed, and you can walk on them, which makes them well suited for the efficient construction methods of today.
 
We are currently developing a flame-retardant material called Xire, which creates an incombustible layer on roof plates, which gives you first rate fire protection. It’s the most responsible insulation material for building applications with high fire safety demands.
 
Biofoam is another example of our innovative thinking. It’s the first CO2 neutral cellular foam in the world, produced from plant-based polymers, fully biodegradable and compostable.

When a heart fails every second count. A defibrillator close by can make a huge difference. The Danish company Cabix produces cabinets that make it easy to install defibrillators in offices and other workplaces as well as homes, schools, etc.

Defibrillator cabinets are usually made of steel or thermoplastics. But Cabix wanted a material that could be moulded to fit around their products, a lightweight and cost-effective material that is soft enough not to harm anyone who bumps into it. 
 
Together with BEWiSynbra, Cabix has developed a new cabinet custom made from EPS. That is made it possible for Cabix to fit the defibrillator and electronics tight and secure in the cabinet. EPS is also 98% air, which means that it is light, yet sturdy enough to keep the cabinet secured to the wall.
 
It has an uncluttered Nordic design that fits into any environment and is clearly visible, so it’s easy to find – and use – in an emergency. Using EPS also means that there are no sharp edges inside that may damage the electrical wires. That is vital since the defibrillator must be connected to the electrical grid in order to be constantly charged.
 
When the cabinet is opened, an alarm goes off to summon help from people nearby. A magnetic lock makes it easy to open, and energy-saving technology keeps the batteries working up to five years.
 
Cabix also has a cabinet made from EPP, which may be suitable for outdoor cabinets. But in this case, using EPS made it possible for them to produce a sustainable solution with built-in electronics at a fair price.

If it saves a life, it’s a bargain.

Ville Nurminen is well-known in the BEWiSynbra family with his team in Porvoo and Etten-Leur where he leads the Research and Development department.

20 years ago, Ville graduated as a chemical engineer with a masters in technology from Lappeenranta university. He did his master thesis on thermoplastic elastomer. It was his introduction to the polymer business.

Ville started his carrier with the company in 2003 as R&D engineer but soon became a pilot hall manager, responsible for pilot activities and production scale trials.

In 2007 and 2008 he spent two periods as a plant manager in our former Kokemäki plant. It was roughly equal size to the Porvoo factory back then, with a capacity of 60,000 tons of EPS. When the plant closed in 2009 Ville came back to Porvoo to work as a Research and development manager.

What has happed in the development of EPS during the time you worked here?

EPS is basically the same as it was when it was introduced in the 1950’s. However, there have been a lot of changes in production and we’ve become constantly more and more cost-efficient. We aim to minimize delays in production and try hard to optimize all the small details. All factors combined this makes the product quality much higher now compared to when I started in 2003.

Also, the introduction of Grey EPS has been a big change. Even though it existed back in 2003 it has become a commodity that is used everywhere now.

But the biggest change, of course, is the focus on the environment. One of the first projects I was involved in 2003 was the development of low pentane grade that would decrease the pentane emissions into the atmosphere. It was the first step towards sustainability and taking responsibility for the environment. Still, it was quite small compared to now.

Does EPS have a future?

EPS is a perfect product in many applications. In floor insulation, to give an example, it is the best in the market, most cost-efficient, really good insulation and great compression properties.

There is nothing else with the same properties at the same price. And in environmental terms – if you are using fossil raw materials it is like the mining industry. You take something out of the ground and put it back in a different form. In that stage, you have consumed only energy. The big question is what do you do with the material after it becomes waste. If it is recycled and handled in the right way, then I would say that EPS has a long future.

What do you like the most about your work?

Chemistry is wonderful. If you think about what happens in chemical reactions and processes it’s amazing. My job description is really wide and I have quite big freedom in my work. Mostly I lead my R&D team or other working groups and try to get them to develop new products, improve processes and be more cost-efficient. Hopefully, I’m able to give also my contribution to projects. Moreover, exhibitions, conferences and customer events are more and more important in my daily work. I have become one of the public faces to represent BEWiSynbra RAW and the whole BEWi group. That’s really hard work. I have to be sharp and focused all the time and remember that I’m at work pretty much immediately after I step out from my home door.

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