Facts about EPS
EPS is 98% air. Only 2% of a typical box is material. This makes EPS a uniquely resource-efficient packaging material with a small carbon footprint.
EPS is extremely lightweight; this helps to reduce fuel consumption, when goods are transported in EPS compared to other heavier packaging materials.
The protective performance of EPS helps to reduce wastage caused by goods that are broken or damaged in the supply chain. This saves resources of energy, materials and transportation.
Thousands of tonnes of EPS are recycled every year in the UK. As a single polymer EPS is straightforward to recycle and is recycled into items such as replacement hardwood decking or garden furniture, coat hangers and disposable cameras.
EPS is HFC, CFC and HCFC free and Pentane is used as its blowing agent. Pentane has a low Global Warming Potential* (GWP) of less than five. (The EU does not register pentane as a substance hazardous to human health or the environment.)
Styrene, used in the manufacture of EPS, occurs naturally in many commonplace products including strawberries, beans, nuts, beer, wine, coffee beans and cinnamon.
In combustion the amount of carbon monoxide and particulates given off by EPS is a small fraction of that emitted by wood or cardboard.
EPS is inert and innocuous and provides stability in landfill because is does not biodegrade and leach chemicals into the water system or gases into air that could contribute to global warming.
Computer-aided design ensures that the minimum amount of material is used to make an EPS pack that will reliably protect fragile products in transit.
The manufacture of EPS is a low pollution process. Steam is the key ingredient and the water is re-used many times. There is no waste in the process as all cut off or rejects are re-used.
Only 0.1% of total oil consumption is used to manufacture EPS.
* Global warming potential (GWP) is a means of measuring the strength of different ‘greenhouse’ gases in the atmosphere and can be used to define the impact greenhouses gases have on global warming over specified periods of time. As an example CO has a GWP of 1 over 100 years. All other greenhouse gases HFC, CFC HCFC and methane are measured relative to CO2.
- Environment facts
- Recycling post-packaging EPS
- Recycling post-construction EPS
- Environmental performance
- BRE Green Guide
- Recycling at Billingsgate Fish Market
- Seafish: Alternative disposal of polystyrene fish boxes (pdf)
- Practicalities, Managing Waste & Energy Recovery
- Recycling Machinery Suppliers
- Links to companies that sell recycled plastic products
More on EPS and the environment