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  • Bhagyashree Jain

EPS - Sustainability & Recycling

As India's biggest EPS Recycler, here's our humble attempt at knowledge inspired sharing from our experience and expertise. This article explores key features and characteristics about EPS and it's Recycling.



About EPS

EPS stands for Expanded Polystyrene and is a thermoplastic. It is sometimes called Thermocol and/or Styrofoam.

EPS has many useful properties. It can be used as an insulator against heat and the cold. It is good at absorbing shocks and protecting delicate items for example your head when used as part of a cycle crash helmet.


Characteristics


1) Protective

The outstanding shock absorbency and compression resistance provides excellent protection properties.

2) Durable

The exceptional durability of EPS makes it an effective and reliable protective packaging for a wide range of goods. There is no loss of strength in damp conditions, making EPS ideal for cool-chain products. The material is moisture resistant, so the highest hygiene requirements are met.

EPS is also odourless and non-toxic.

3) Lightweight

EPS is made up of 98% air, making it a very lightweight material, its use for packaging does not significantly add to the weight of the total product. This in turn means that fuel consumption is improved and fuel emissions are lower than with heavier materials. The reduction in emissions means less impact on global warming.

4) Insulating

The thermal insulation properties of EPS help keep food fresh through the distribution chain. It is widely used to package fresh fish and for seed trays where it assists in the growth of the plants. It is also used by the pharmaceutical industry to package items that are temperature sensitive and that need to be transported around the world.

5) Versatile

EPS can be moulded into any shape or form to meet a product’s protection and insulation needs. Small amounts of EPS can be used as corners for heavy items or a valuable product may be completed encased in EPS to provide maximum protection. For detailed information on the production of EPS, moulded parts and construction applications, please connect with us at www.thermowastesolutions.com


Sustainability


Sustainability Facts about EPS

The ability to conserve and protect valuable resources as well as reduce CO2 emissions are important environmental concerns. EPS makes contributions towards conserving the environment in numerous ways.

EPS Is Safe & Healthy Throughout Its Life Cycle:

  • Made of 98 percent air, EPS is an inert material, without harmful chemicals that off-gas or leach during its use or disposal.

  • EPS is widely recognised as a safe packaging choice for use in food contact by government regulatory agencies worldwide.

Meets Performance & Cost Criteria:

  • Because of its versatility EPS offers significant savings in design and development, product assembly and distribution costs. This minimises damage rates which saves money and valuable resources.

  • With customised packaging designs EPS delivers exactly the right amount of product protection. The high tensile strength and cellular structure give this lightweight product exceptional cushioning properties. Again, saving valuable resources.

Maximizes Renewable or Recycled Source Materials

  • Recycled EPS is used in both closed-loop and open-loop processes to make a variety of applications from recycled-content foam packaging to durable goods and innovative new building products.

  • In 2010 more than 52% of all EPS collected for recycling was used to make recycled-content packaging.

Uses Clean Production Technologies & Best Practices

  • Innovations in manufacturing technologies ensure EPS production minimizes energy consumption with mould cavities that cool more quickly and processes that recycle water and recapture air emissions.

  • Many EPS manufacturers are ISO certified.

Physically Designed To Optimize Materials & Energy


EPS feedstock is converted into a finished product 32 times its original volume—virtually turning air into a strong and efficient packaging material.

If all EPS packaging were replaced with corrugated cardboard, paper, wood, moulded fibre etc., compared with current figures raw material requirements would rise to 560%, power consumption to 215% and the landfill volume to 150%.


EPS RECYCLING


Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is recyclable and is being recycled by businesses and consumers across the world. EPS can be recycled into a variety of new products.

Recycling turns EPS that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. There are four main waste reduction options for EPS packaging:

  1. Reduce – refers to the reduction of natural resources used. By optimising pack design, moulders can reduce EPS usage, thus reducing environmental burden and cost. EPS packaging can be utilised in many ways after its original intended use. As such, they contribute towards protecting valuable resources.:

  2. Re-Use – EPS packaging can be re-used as multi-trip packaging, e.g. for the internal transport of partially assembled goods. Another simple re-use of the packaging is to grind it and use it as soil conditioner to improve drainage and aeration. EPS seed and pot-holding trays are often re-used in this way at garden centres.

  3. Recycle – is the reprocessing of used EPS packaging to make a new material such as hardwood replacement for garden furniture, slate replacement for roofing tiles and new plastics items such as coat hangers, CD and video cases.



4) Recover – EPS has a very high calorific value, higher than that of coal, and can be safely burnt within energy recovery units, or incinerators, without giving off toxic or environmentally damaging fumes.


Our Goals


Our mission is to unite nation's EPS industry through increased co-operation and outreach. We also seek to provide a focus for the discussion and the dissemination of information about EPS environmental and solid waste programmes to packaging professionals, product manufacturers, government officials, association members and consumers.


Our major commitments:

  • To enhance existing EPS recycling programmes and initiate new ones to foster environmental stewardship.

  • Promotion of Indian recycling routes.

  • Establishment of a nation-wide network to exchange information on EPS recycling.

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