EPS packaging solutions have been a favorite for decades, because of their extraordinary versatility, protection capabilities, and economic efficiency. Lately, this material has also been understood as a sustainable alternative, particularly since the implementation of recycling schemes. This perception around EPS packaging has transformed as sustainability is increasingly understood as a complex process that involves materials on many fronts and goes beyond the simplistic “ditch the plastic” motto.
We analyze the advantages of expanded polystyrene packaging and the eco-friendly possibilities of these solutions.
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Why choose EPS packaging solutions
EPS packaging solutions provide efficient storage and safe delivery. On the one hand, they help improve logistics operations by increasing the number of full loads and reducing packaging costs. The number of appliances per pallet can be increased by 16%, while the weight of the packaging can be reduced by 20%.
On the other hand, EPS packaging presents extraordinary protection capabilities that minimize damaged goods, thus improving logistics and costs related to complaints and product returns.
EPS is made of 98% air and 2% matter. In fact, we’ve proved a 62% weight reduction compared with other alternatives such as plastic, and an 82% weight reduction compared to wood packaging alternatives. For instance, the weight of a wooden pallet corresponds to 8 EPS pallets. This allows for significant cost reductions in transport.
At the same time, EPS packaging solutions allow for material reduction, which in turn means costs are minimized because the direct purchase of materials is reduced. This material reduction comes from applying optimized and custom packaging solutions.
Expanded polystyrene packaging: a sustainable plastic
EPS is a 100% recyclable material that’s inert, non-toxic, and made of 98% air. This allows for a circular economy system to be put in place, improving this material’s sustainability. It’s important to take into account that the recycling process for EPS packaging solutions requires 91% fewer resources than paper recycling.
Where is EPS waste deposited?
There are several possibilities for EPS waste. For end-users, ordinary plastic containers and local waste facilities are usually fine, especially where EPS treatment facilities have been implemented. Local businesses should follow local waste management norms.
At the same time, Knauf Appliances has worked and collaborated with their clients to connect waste collection systems and recycling centers.
The mechanical processes to recycle EPS
There are several mechanical processes to recycle EPS solutions:
- If the EPS is clean and presents a good state, the best is to crush it and then mix it with raw materials, so that new EPS products can be fabricated. This is the case of recycled insulating materials in construction, lightweight concrete, and even compost.
- EPS briquetting helps to make EPS more compact to use to produce energy. In fact, 1 kg of polystyrene waste can turn into 13 liters of fuel.
- Melting helps to break up EPS and turn it into new materials such as XPS, which in turn is used in insulating panels, plaques, and other construction elements.
Chemical recycling of EPS
The chemical recycling of EPS provides very pure polystyrene. This means treating EPS at a molecular level, eliminating impurities, and retaining all-polymer qualities.
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New materials with a lower environmental impact: alternatives to EPS packaging solutions
NEOPS® is a bioplastic that, instead of being sourced from fossil fuels, it’s obtained from plant-based sources (soy, wheat, cereal, and waste, as well as tree branches and leaves, all of them from non-agricultural origins). This innovative material follows biomass balance criteria and has been certified by REDcert² (a new standard for sustainable biomass production).
NEOPS® presents an identical performance to EPS and is 100% recyclable too, while also reducing CO2 emissions by 30% during its production process, compared to traditional EPS.
CELOOPS® is an expandable plastic resin that originates from post-consumer recycled plastics and whose main chemical composition is styrene. This material innovation cuts down fossil fuel raw materials and brings a new life to plastic, being part of a circular economy ecosystem that also generates a very low carbon footprint.
CELOOPS® is also certified by the new biomass standard REDcert² and can be recycled using any existing recycling channels and local waste facilities. At the same time, this material presents similar properties to EPS packaging solutions, including lightness, thermal insulation, shock absorption, impermeability, mechanical resistance, acoustic insulation, and chemical resistance.
Recycled EPS packaging solutions contribute to less waste generation and, at Knauf Appliances, we’ve committed towards this important environmental goal. This is why we’ve created the Knauf Circular® program, ensuring that your EPS waste will be recycled into new products.
Want to learn more about EPS packaging solutions, their advantages, and why they are a sustainable solution that can guide your company towards your environmental goals? Download our free ebook for more resources.