Environmental Facts

The Environmental Facts – Packaging

Comprising 98% air, EPS is one of the most resource efficient materials on the planet. Use of light weight EPS packaging results in reduced fuel consumption and a significant reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions compared to other heavier packaging materials such as cardboard and wood.

Due to the excellent cushioning and protective qualities of EPS packaging supply chain costs and waste are reduced. Damage to goods is reduced and as a result consumption of additional energy, material and transportation resources is also minimised.

Using EPS to package a product will result in a reduction in fuel consumption compared to other materials.

In the food industry, EPS packaging keeps produce fresh and at the correct temperature for longer, helping to reduce spoilage and minimise waste, which in turn reduces methane gas, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

Negative Carbon Footprint – Building and Construction

Where EPS is used to insulate buildings it has a negative carbon footprint, saving far more in CO2 emissions than it emits during manufacture and disposal.

EPS insulation panels cut building CO2 emissions by up to 50%. The energy used to produce the panels is recovered in less than six months. As the insulation performance of EPS does not deteriorate it continues to reduce the energy requirement, fossil fuel dependence and energy related emissions of a building over its full lifespan. The performance characteristics of EPS do not deteriorate over time. EPS panels have been removed from buildings after 30 years with no noticeable change in insulation performance or appearance.

1kg of oil in manufacture saves the equivalent of over 100kg of oil over the lifetime of a building Source: EPS Group, UK. Reference: D.G. Evans and S.G. Ross – Ecological sustainability of expanded Polystyrene Foam Products in the Building Industry.

EPS Life Cycle Comparison

A life cycle analysis is a technique that quantifies the total impact of a product during its production, distribution, use and recycling, treatment or disposal. A reliable life cycle analysis will measure energy consumption, air pollution, water pollution, global warming potential and the volume of solid waste.

The following table compares the EPS life cycle analysis with other common materials.

 

Shaped/Moulded Packaging* EPS Pulp and Fibreboard
Energy consumption 1 2.3 - 3.8
Air Pollution 1 3.1 - 4.1
Water Pollution 1 2.3 - 2.8
Global Warming Potential 1 4.0 - 4.4
Volume of solid waste 1 0.69 - 0.79

 

Packaging Materials* EPS Wood, Paper, etc
Cost 1 1.3
Weight 1 3.1 – 4.1
Energy Consumption 1 4.0 – 4.4
Volume of solid waste 1 0.69 – 0.79

*Source: EPS Group, UK.

A simple comparison: EPS v. Paper Drinking Cups

Disposable paper drinking cups are often compared favourably with EPS cups on environmental grounds. This could not be further from the truth, with EPS being far more resource and energy efficient.

Compared with EPS cups of the same size, the manufacture of paper cups consumes:

• 170 times as much process water

• 30% more cooling water

• 15 times the amount of chemicals

• 13 times more electricity

• 6 times as much steam