ECOBALANCES OR LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSES
We are occasionally asked the following question: Does the manufacture of EPS products have any impact on the environment?
The answer is that it does, since it is impossible to make something out of nothing. All manufacturing processes cause and will cause some impact on the environment. Regardless of whether they be energy and resource usage, emissions into the atmosphere, water pollution or waste generation - some will always occur. Something else which is true is that each environmentally conscious manufacturer will aspire to keeping the environmental impact to a minimum. Some materials are marketed as "ecological" or "environmentally friendly", providing piecemeal information (about those aspects where they are positive) in relation to their environrnmentol effects. There is a technique for circumventing misleading information and for evaluating the environmental effects of materials.
ECOBALANCES OR LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSES:
Ecobalance or product life-cycle analyses were conceived taking into account all the stages involved in a product's life, from the beginning to the end of its life. In each of these stages the quantity of energy it consumes is ascertained as well as the quantity and type of atmospheric and water pollution it causes and the quantity of solid waste it generates. This new discipline is the most efficient method available for evaluating the environmental impact of materials. It enjoys growing acceptance from governmental authorities.
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 then 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.
In the graphic below, EPS has a base value of "1" against which competitive materials were measured.
1) University of Victoria, BC - "Polyfoam vs paper cups...". http://www.springerlink.com/content/b55256333584v60n/
2) InFo Kunststoff, Berlin - "EPS and corrugated cardbord, a life cycle study". http://library.epfl.ch/en/periodicals/?recId=12836431
3) Study of GVM, Wiesbaden.