BASF is the first European manufacturer to have completely switched a production plant for XPS (extruded polystyrene rigid foam) to a new polymeric flame retardant (PolyFR). Styrodur insulating panels produced at BASF’s plant in Tudela, Spain, are now made exclusively with the polymeric flame retardant, which has a superior environmental profile while offering the same flame retardancy. BASF’s other Styrodur production plants in Ludwigshafen and Schwarzheide, Germany, and Bibbiano, Italy, will all be switched to the new flame retardant by the end of 2014.
BASF thus continues its successful strategy as the market leader for polystyrene-based insulating materials in Europe. “Through our concerted efforts, BASF is supporting the sustainable development of the European polystyrene foam industry,” said Giorgio Greening, Senior Vice President of BASF’s global business unit for polystyrene foams. “We have pushed ahead the development and introduction of this alternative flame retardant. Our goal is to enable our customers to make the switch successfully and in good time.”
In 2011, BASF announced its determination to switch to the new flame retardant in close cooperation with its customers. BASF is also already using PolyFR in the majority of its range of expandable polystyrene (EPS) products. The changeover of all EPS grades in Europe will also be completed by the end of 2014, and thus earlier than required by law.
The changeover was preceded by an intensive testing phase together with EPS customers. In the transition phase, applications specialists from BASF helped customers to adapt their production processes accordingly. This has ensured that product properties in subsequent steps in the value chain are also at least as good as before the change.
As of August 21, 2015, the general use of HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) will be banned as a flame retardant in the European Union under the REACH legislation and because of its listing as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The flame retardant PolyFR, which is without concerns, is now used instead. This was preceded by a test and development phase lasting several years that was supported by BASF. In the meantime, producers of PolyFR have announced that they will expand their capacities in the course of the year.