Resource-effi­cient by nature, EPS helps oth­ers reduce their car­bon foot­prints, pre­serve bio­di­ver­si­ty and cre­ate a more cir­cu­lar economy.

EPS helps Europe deliver

Com­posed of 98% air, EPS is resource-effi­cient by nature and helps Europe reduce its car­bon foot­print. It’s also 100% recyclable.

Whether by mechan­i­cal or chem­i­cal recy­cling, EPS can be turned into raw mate­ri­als for a new gen­er­a­tion of EPS pack­ag­ing or many oth­er goods. Some com­pa­nies are now mak­ing new EPS pack­ag­ing out of 100% post-con­sumer EPS waste.

But did you know that EPS also helps pro­tect bees and bio­di­ver­si­ty, reduce food waste, and con­tribute to the cir­cu­lar econ­o­my? If not, read on!

BEWI EPS recycled-edit

EPS Sustainability Case Studies

Here are just a few exam­ples of how EPS pack­ag­ing helps the environment

EPS Life Cycle


Mechanical recycling reduces waste, keeps the cycle going

Did you know that EPS can be recy­cled in an effi­cient mechan­i­cal process to man­u­fac­ture a long list of sec­ondary prod­ucts from pack­ag­ing to con­struc­tion and oth­er products?

Expand­ed Poly­styrene can be recy­cled in an effi­cient mechan­i­cal process to man­u­fac­ture a long list of sec­ondary prod­ucts from pack­ag­ing to con­struc­tion and oth­er products.

The process starts when EPS is col­lect­ed direct­ly from its many com­mer­cial users or households.

Sep­a­rat­ed or sort­ed EPS waste can be com­pact­ed effi­cient­ly, depend­ing on the desired feed­stock for  recy­cling. In many cas­es spe­cial­ist, fuel-effi­cient trucks known as high-vol­ume vehi­cles, are used for its trans­port. Any con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed mate­r­i­al like some includ­ing a now-banned flame retar­dant is sort­ed out before the process continues.

Then, EPS moulds are fed into a pre-shred­der where they are cut first into palm-sized pieces, then lat­er sub­ject­ed to fur­ther grind­ing and set­ting process­es. The result­ing mate­r­i­al, called “shred” can be used as an addi­tive for the plas­ter and mor­tar indus­try, in seat cush­ions, or as a pore-form­ing agent in brick man­u­fac­tur­ing, extend­ing the life cycle of the EPS for decades.

In many coun­tries, there is a large indus­try of small and medi­um-sized com­pa­nies that spe­cialise in recy­cling EPS.

See how it works in the videos below.

Dutch EPS fish­box recy­cling video
BASF video on indus­tri­al EPS recycling 

Chemical recycling makes EPS ‘good as new’

While mechan­i­cal recy­cling can turn end-of-life EPS to “shred” or PS regran­u­late that can be used in a wide range of indus­tri­al appli­ca­tions, chem­i­cal recy­cling can trans­form poly­styrene into the equiv­a­lent of vir­gin mate­ri­als to pro­duce good-as-new recy­cled EPS.

A chem­i­cal recy­cling process known as pyrol­y­sis can con­vert EPS in mixed plas­tic waste into pyrol­y­sis oil, which can be fed into the pro­duc­tion of basic chem­i­cals in place of fos­sil feed­stock. EPS that results from this chem­i­cal recy­cling process is indis­tin­guish­able from EPS made from vir­gin raw materials.

A vari­ety of recy­cling options, com­bined with the fact that EPS pack­ag­ing gen­er­al­ly con­sists of a sin­gle poly­mer, make EPS one of the most recy­clable plas­tic pack­ag­ing mate­ri­als available.

Chem­i­cal recy­cling makes expand­ed poly­styrene pack­ag­ing ‘good as new’

How chemical recycling works


Life-cycle analysis supports EPS packaging

Com­par­a­tive results for three dif­fer­ent pack­ag­ing options

Com­par­isons of the total life-cycle impact of the uses of dif­fer­ent pack­ag­ing mate­ri­als in terms of ener­gy use, water use, pol­lu­tion and waste mate­r­i­al vol­umes show that expand­ed poly­styrene (EPS) com­pares favourably with polypropy­lene (PP) and card­board pack­ag­ing because of its ener­gy-effi­cient pro­duc­tion and light weight.


*Com­par­a­tive results of three pack­ag­ing solu­tions in an aver­age 6 kg Euro­pean sit­u­a­tion, Price­wa­ter­house Coop­ers, Novem­ber 2011.