Research by ACH Foam Technologies in the US shows proposed bans on EPS foam would do more harm than good.
While EPS foam was once thought to be environmentally unfriendly, the study, "Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the US & Canada Substitution Analysis" proves otherwise. Data from the report, which was compiled by Franklin Associates for the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, shows that replacing plastic packaging with alternative materials would result in 4.5 times more packaging weight based on figures from 2010, as well as an 80 percent increase in energy use and 130 percent more global warming potential.*
The study shows the unintended results of bans on plastic packaging. Glass alternatives come with higher environmental costs in terms of manufacturing, transportation, and even recycling.
Along with the environmental benefit, EPS foam is the best shipping material for shock absorption and thermal protection. Because of EPS shipping containers, mail order steaks stay frozen to perfection and temperature-sensitive and fragile pharmaceuticals remain viable.
EPS foam can be recycled. California is now offering curbside recycling in 65 cities. Corporations like Chick-Fil-A, Walmart, and Best Buy have launched EPS recycling initiatives that have been hugely successful -- reducing each of the corporations' environmental footprint and providing feedstock to manufacturers of recycled content products.
Many companies are taking innovative approaches to reusing EPS foam. Waste to Waves in California is making recycled EPS into new surfboards, and recycling EPS foam has become a full time job for a couple in Massachusetts.