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Manufacture

How Expanded Polystyrene is Manufactured

EPS is made from styrene, a by-product of crude oil extraction. It is also found in the natural starch contained in many fruit and food products. For every 1000 litres of oil extracted, only a small amount of EPS results. No oil is extracted solely for EPS production. The following diagram demonstrates the source of materials used to produce EPS.

Expanded polystyrene foam is made from expandable polystyrene, which is a rigid cellular plastic foam containing an expansion agent. EPS is obtained from oil as can be seen from the diagram.

The manufacture process of EPS products from the raw material (expandable polystyrene) uses natural gas to produce steam. The manufacture process also uses some electricity to run the moulding machines and ancillary equipment. Cooling water used to cool the moulds after the EPS has formed the desired product is collected and reused in the cooling process. Steam that condenses during the moulding process is also collected and reused to conserve water.

The expanding force in the foam is produced from the pentane, which is contained within the expandable polystyrene. The pentane is released during the moulding process.

Pentane has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of zero. The European Union does not register pentane as a substance hazardous to human health or the environment.

RMAX EPS products do not contain ozone-depleting substances.

Stages of production

The Unique Properties of EPS

EPS is able to absorb vast energy, making it the ideal material to be used for impact protection. Bicycle helmets, child car seats and protective packaging are just some examples of the power of the energy absorption of EPS.

EPS has a high capacity for thermal insulation making it the ideal packaging for the transportation of seafood and temperature sensitive medicines and an ideal insulation material for the building and construction industry.

EPS is lightweight so it is ideal for any application where weight is a consideration. Being lighter than some other packaging materials results in less transport based emissions.

EPS is unaffected by humidity as it does not absorb water or water vapour.

EPS is inert and meets food contact regulatory standards making it ideal to package food or pharmaceutical products.

Total Lifestyle Environmental Efficiency

From its inception right through to its recycling, expanded polystyrene has a positive impact on our environment.