Reuse and treatment and disposal of panels

The EPIC Guide covers the options for the reuse of Insulated Panels and has a separate section on the treatment, recycling and disposal of panels both with ODS and non-ODS blowing agents.


Studies into the re-use of panels have indicated that the potential for reuse from both an economic and technical point of view can be limited by various factors. However members of EPIC have demonstrated cases where insulated panels have been re-used, typically on industrial buildings and also agricultural type buildings where aesthetics are not vitally important.

End of life options for insulated panels with ODS

Since January 2004 all PIR insulated panels produced are classed as non-hazardous and do not contain CFCs or HCFCs (ODS). For PUR/PIR panels manufactured before 2004 using ODS blowing agents, current legislation governing the recovery of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) – EC Regulation 2037/2000 – requires recovery of ODS to be carried out only ‘where practicable’.

A commercial service for dealing responsibly with the legacy of CFC and HCFC containing insulated panels at their end of life is now available.

EPIC members have completed successful trials that demonstrate the feasibility of using existing refrigerator recycling plants for the recovery of blowing agents from PUR/PIR steel-faced Insulated Panels including one project of over 7000m2 of CFC containing roof panel.

Fridge recycling plants, like conventional shredder plants, allow the steel to be recovered for scrap thereby helping to offset processing and transport costs. A further major advantage of fridge recycling plants is that the recovered foam is clean and dry – in the ideal form for possible recycling/reprocessing, which although technically feasible is not commercially available at present. The use of fridge plant processing goes a long way towards establishing a ‘closed-loop’ resources flow in the future, potentially avoiding landfill. It deals with the significant aspects of the potential waste flow arising from the recovery of insulated panels at the end of their life.

End of life options for non-ODS insulated panels produced since 2004 including current production

Conventional shredder plants offer a proven solution for dealing with insulated panels with non-ozone depleting blowing agents and are suitable for non-ODS panels, which can be safely processed as a co-feed with other scrap materials.

The cost of processing panels through shredder plants is approximately cost neutral with the transport costs from site being covered by the scrap value of the steel. Economics for specific buildings will be dependant on transport distances.

Conventional commercial shredder plants do not offer the opportunity of recycling the insulation core but a dedicated shredder facility does have the potential to offer the opportunity for collecting the insulation core for recycling. This development is anticipated in the future

Note: Conventional ferrous shredding facilities in the UK process tens of thousands of tonnes of products such as vehicles, general scrap metal and large household appliances every year.

Shredders work by pulverising materials using rapidly flailing hammers with rotor diameters up to 3 metres driven by large motors up to 10000hp. Sophisticated control systems, in conjunction with cyclone technology, ensure clean separation of metal from plastics and other non-metallic components. Metal goes for recycling whilst the non-metallic waste is recycled where possible or sent to landfill.

Service for recycling insulated panels

Selection of fridge and shredder plants

A commercial service for dealing responsibly with the legacy of CFC and HCFC containing insulated panels at their end of life is now available through the use of fridge recycling plants.

The market situation regarding the various recycling plants is dependant on capacities and prices of recyclable materials and is constantly changing. Although plants can be identified through internet search engines, EPIC recommend the use of a specialist service company who are aware of the latest plant programmes and where capacity is available for the various types of panel – often not the nearest geographical location.

Blue Castle Business Services offer a simple, cost-effective route for recycling insulated panels. Blue Castle offer a range of recycling options to suit the specific requirements as determined by the type of panel and the location of the project and can assist in the correct implementation of any new recycling projects or expanding your current recycling programme. They will also assist in the identification of the core material where required.

Contact Blue Castle Business Services for more information.
Tel: 01400 283622.