EPS News

Tried and tested global solution that’s just 98% air

David Emes, Chairman of the EPS Group of the British Plastics Federation, says that expanded polystyrene packaging ticks all the boxes that responsible manufacturers and retailers could wish for.

In the world of packaging, innovation is a constant goal. And so it should be. New ways of packing, promoting, protecting and presenting products to the consumer are key drivers towards a healthy economy. In addition, more than ever, we must ensure that the packaging we use not only performs well but has minimal environmental impacts. But, whilst there is a case for constantly re-assessing the role and value of packaging, just once in a while, we have to accept that there already exists a miracle material whose performance can’t be bettered, has the smallest carbon impacts, and is simply not worth trying to replace. That material is EPS (expanded polystyrene). Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, brand owner or retailer the chances are that, at some stage in the supply chain, you will benefit from the irreplaceable attributes of a material that, to tell the truth, is just 98% air. Ok, it’s cleverly ‘engineered air’ and nowadays has a posh new name across Europe called ‘airpop’. But it’s air nevertheless – captured in a tough matrix of polystyrene polymer shaped by using nothing more toxic than steam!

It’s a deep human instinct to try to find something better. When it comes to EPS however, it’s time to stop trying.

David Emes, Chairman, EPS Group (expanded polystyrene, airpop)

David Emes

Chairman, EPS Group

It is incredibly lightweight; it can be moulded to any shape for a bespoke packaging solution; or used as a void fill around unusual shapes; it provides outstanding impact resistance and unbeatable thermal protection – against heat or cold; it is non-toxic, chemically inert, non-irritant, rot-proof; complies with all UK and EU regulatory requirements and – at the end of its life – it’s 100% recyclable. So how many more boxes do you want to tick?

There is an old adage – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Yet it’s also a deep human instinct to try to find something better. When it comes to EPS however, it’s time to stop trying. As well as playing a key role in transit packaging where its light weight significantly reduces emissions and other carbon impacts, many consumer packs made of EPS protect the widest range of products from gifts and glassware to electronics and computing. EPS packs are also a significant contributor to getting food to the consumer without the costly waste which comes from damage and deterioration. EPS is widely used in the retail sector for the protection and display of meat, fish, poultry and fresh produce. It’s also essential in the foodservice industry where cups, tubs, trays and boxes help deliver millions of meals every day from gourmet and deli products to the humble fish and chips which are part of our heritage.

It is also no accident that EPS is the preferred global packaging solution for shipping fresh fish and seafood from port to plate. EPS fish boxes keep fish and seafood safe due to their combined high thermal protection and impact resistance. In this role they are a significant contributor to food waste reduction, food safety and hygiene in protecting the 657,000 tonnes of fish landed at UK ports and fish farms: www.fishboxes.info. More than 22 million EPS fish boxes are used every year and this has been rising consistently by about 10% per annum for the last few years.

And it’s not just in packaging that EPS brings innovation, durability and cost-saving. The material has just been used as a tough, rigid void in railway platform extensions to slash construction time from 20 weeks to 20 days and it’s spawned a new generation of 21st century beehives to provide protection against the frosts of winter and the blistering heat of summer – all of which threatens an already struggling species. The bees in their new EPS homes are so happy that the honey yield is up 30%!

The EPS industry members of BPF represents an expert knowledge base and its members will work with you to make sure you have the most cost-effective solution tailored to your specific needs. A solution which will work. It’s a solution which ticks all the boxes of Economy, Performance and Sustainability. So EPS deservedly stands for so much more in the world of packaging!