Any product of any shape or size may be packed with expanded polystyrene. The following range of applications might not be comprehensive.
In packaging there are two main applications:
PACKAGING OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS
Imagine any industrial product and the best packaging will certainly be EPS. Completely protected and safe from risk in transport and handling, EPS provides industrial products with the ideal material for their total protection. From delicate pharmaceutical products through electronic components, electrical consumer goods and toys to horticultural or garden products, all of these products are able to arrive at their destination in perfect condition protected with EPS packaging.
Moreover, it is important to highlight the fact that EPS packaging fits perfectly into automated production lines, where products come out ready packed. EPS packaging adapts superbly to integrated production systems, and it embodies the best alternative in terms of cost, versatility and efficiency with ease of use for the workers or to the sophisticated machinery which handles the products until they come off the production line.
PACKAGING OF FOODSTUFFS
Fish and shellfish, meat, fruit, ice-cream… EPS packaging is the best way of keeping foodstuffs fresh. In much the same way as in the case of industrial products where perfect protection avoids hazards, breakages and wastage in the different stages of production and transport, EPS packaging ensures that different foodstuffs reach the retailer or the final consumer in perfect conditions. We are dealing here with foodstuffs that cannot be subject to risk, since a badly protected or poorly insulated product could arrive in substandard conditions and the subsequent risk of consuming sullied foodstuffs is truly serious. For this reason we could broaden the ecological benefit of EPS packing/packaging to its capacity for conserving food since it enables animal and vegetable products to be preserved and optimizes product life-cycles
by avoiding their loss or spoiling before consumption.
Here we will make a slight aside to recall the difference already mentioned “What is EPS”: EPS is non toxic and totally inert. Gas extruded polystyrene (XPS) used to manufacture small trays and buckets is a different product. For these packaging applications that we have seen, it is worth underlining the following properties of EPS:
- SHOCK ABSORPTION: the material has a high-energy absorption index should it fall or be knocked and this makes it the ideal material for protecting sensitive products during transport and storage.
- THERMAL INSULATION: protecting products, especially foodstuffs, from sudden changes in temperature.
- LOW WEIGHT: its low density reduces the packaging weight and consequently provides savings in transport.
- RETENTION OF VITAMIN C: recently studies have shown that fruit and vegetables when packed on EPS keep their content of Vitamin C for a longer period.
- RESISTANCE TO HUMIDITY: Its excellent mechanical and thermal properties are maintained by the fact that it does not absorb water. This is significant because moisture can affect other packaging materials.
- COMPRESSIVE RESISTANCE: allows stacking of merchandise-filled packages and packs without any difficulties in storage, transport or at point of sale.
- CHEMICAL RESISTANCE: EPS allows many products to be packed without the goods being affected.
- DISPLAY EFFECT (Promoting sales): given its appealing appearance and the ease with which it can be coloured, printed on, stacked and subjected to other product dressing techniques to attract customers.
- HYGIENIC NATURE: since the material is inert, unalterable and innocuous it can come into direct contact with foodstuffs whilst complying with the laid down health and safety standards.
- ADAPTABILITY: it is easy to adapt to any product or any design.
ECOBALANCES OR LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSES
Life-cycle analyses have shown that Expanded Polystyrene packaging clearly has much less effect on the environment than other competitive materials for the same use. Expanded Polystyrene packaging has a significantly lower impact on the environment during production than cardboard products. This is especially so in terms of atmospheric pollution, energy consumption, water pollution and global warming potential.
The table shows a comparison of EPS with other materials and provides data which is interesting from an ecological point of view.