What is Expanded Polystyrene?

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a foam plastic made from a derivative of oil (Styrene) and a blowing agent – Pentane also derived from oil and gas production. When it is expanded EPS is between 96% and 99% air. The strong features of EPS are the excellent cushioning features and excellent thermal insulation it provides. These features make EPS an ideal choice for protective packaging for a range of products – from medical products to aquaculture, agriculture, white goods and building products.

Does EPS foam contain Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or HCFCs?

No. There are no CFCs, HCFCs or ozone depleting substances involved in the manufacture of Barnes Environmental EPS.

What are CFCs and HCFCs and what is their impact on the ozone layer?

CFCs and HCFCs are from the chemical family known as halo-alkanes or organic halides and are a group of chemical compounds, consisting of alkanes, such as methane or ethane, with one or more halogens linked, such as chlorine or fluorine. They are known under many chemical and commercial names. As flame retardants, fire extinguishing agents, refrigerants, propellants and solvents they have or had wide use. Some halo-alkanes (those containing chlorine or bromine) have been shown to have negative effects on the environment through ozone depletion. The most widely known family within this group is the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Is EPS foam biodegradable?

EPS foam is not biodegradable – this is a strong positive feature in many applications. VoidForm® used in construction of domestic house slabs provide added thermal insulation to each house. If the EPS VoidForm® was subject to biodegradation then this positive impact on reducing energy consumption over the lifetime of a house would be lost. In Barnes GeoFoam® applications where EPS is used to provide stability to civil construction the strong feature of EPS is the lack of biodegradation. These civil structures remain in place and remain stable. This prevents movement in roads, bridges and other structures.

What are the benefits of EPS foam Thermal Insulation products and industrial cushion packaging?

EPS thermal insulation products result in less energy used to heat or cool buildings – saving limited resources such as oil and natural gas. Over the lifetime of a building EPS insulation can save 50 times the amount of petroleum products used to produce it. In cushion packaging EPS protects the products before and during delivery to the consumer. This reduces rejects through damage, a waste of the resources used to make the product. EPS also reduces transport costs to get the product to the end consumer, as it is such a light weight packaging material.

Is EPS considered toxic?

No. EPS is totally non-toxic. If buried in landfill it does not leech out chemicals into the environment.

Can EPS foam be recycled?

Yes. EPS is 100% recyclable.


Barnes appreciates the support of both REPSA and EPS Packaging Group, part of the British Plastics Federation for use of data and graphics.