Polystyrene foam is a packaging and cushioning material made from carbon and hydrogen. It’s also known by the brand name Styrofoam. Expanded polystyrene is lightweight, contains up to 98% air, and is completely inert. EPS is made by using advanced cutting and moulding procedures to produce high quality finished surfaces on the final product. EPS foam can be identified by the number 6 plastic resin ID code. Its insulation properties and strength make it great for packaging and shipping delicate merchandise.
Polystyrene foam has three major types of insulations: thermal, electrical, and vibrational. The foam's most known use is for white drinking cups which are ideal for hot beverages like coffee or tea. It can also be used to protect goods from damage caused by excess vibration during shipping. It does not conduct electrical current which is helpful in protecting goods with electrical components. As a bonus, polystyrene boxes can also be used as an insulator against noise.
Shipping and Packaging Benefits
Polystyrene foam is long lasting, and tough to destroy which makes it a great choice for making storable boxes. This type of box is light and easy to carry, which is beneficial to workers during the loading process at shipping companies. Their resistance to moisture damage makes them perfect for outdoor use and use in damp areas. This type of material is also typical for Dry Ice shipments. like fruits and vegetables. The foam is often a preferred choice for packaging smaller fragile items such as cosmetics.
EPS is regularly used as an insulation product and will keep meats and fish cool. Some companies use a combination of EPS and cardboard boxes to get the job done. Depending on the type of food being transported, an EPS foam shipping box can be enhanced by the use of thermal gel packs that can be frozen and even reused. Alternatively, blocks of dry ice can be used without adding too much bulk. The EPS box is then set in a corrugated box for shipment. These polystyrene boxes often hold water without any help, but a liner bag can be used for extra protection. The boxes are needed because no one can truly predict the travel conditions the goods will have to face. This is a great help for those in the restaurant industry.
All though polystyrene foam is recyclable, a lot of it tends to end up in landfills or scattered around the nearby areas. One of its greatest strengths is also a great weakness. Its light weight creates management issues. This leads to issues like float-ability and a tendency to be blown from disposal sites even after proper disposal. Also, since it is non-biodegradable, it will be around for a very long while. Luckily, there are some forward-thinking companies out there trying to make a difference. One such company is Omega Packaging. Their factory includes its own recycle plant for EPS boxes. When unwanted and damaged boxes are brought in, Omega converts them into General Purpose Polystyrene. There’s no waste left behind.
Polystyrene foam is popular because of its insulation properties, its strength and its light weight. Its many advantages outweigh its few disadvantages. Proper use and management of this material can reduce its environmental impact. This ensures that customers get their merchandise in great shape, companies save on transportation costs and the environment gets a needed break as well. Everybody wins.