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Arrow EPS and the Environment
-- What is EPS?
-- Applications and why...
-- Life Cycle Analysis (overview)
-- EPS Effects on the Enviornment
-- Pentane and ozone
-- Greenhouse gases
-- Waste Management
-- Biodegradability
-- Energy Recovery
-- Recycling rates - 2013 update
-- Conclusions
-- Full EPS LCI
-- EPS Recycling Program
-- EPS Sustainable Summary
-- EPS or molded pulp?
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ArrowArrow EPS and the Environment >
Biodegradable EPS is here.

Now if a piece of molded EPS finds its way into a landfill it will break down in just a few years. This material is still recyclable just like normal EPS - the biodegradability simply adds an end of (useful) life option. This new material has been extensively tested and meets the ASTM D5511 biodegradability spec. When the material breaks down all that's left is methane (good for waste-to-energy) and water.

This good news material has the same physical properties as typical EPS so it is a drop in solution. It does cost a little more than regular EPS, but not much, about a 10% or less upcharge on a molded foam part.

How does it work? All plastics are a byproduct of the oil refining process, that makes them organic and thus naturally biodegradable. The variable is at what rate? Typical EPS will eventually break down but it may take 500+- plus years. By way of an additive normal EPS is changed from hydrophobic (resistant to moisture) to hydrophilic so moisture can sit on the surface of EPS in a landfill. At that point the microbes in the landfill seek the carbon in the plastic as a nutrient source. As they digest the carbon they also excrete enzymes and voila - biodegradation occurs (also meeting the ASTM spec.) This whole process has been tested and retested, taking four or less years. Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Bio-EPS molded by us! SDS/MSDS for the new material

Please feel free to email us with questions or inquiries email or call us at (800) 626-1197

  <<< press the easy button or...

Go strait to the national recycling drop-off locations map (new page opens, enter zip code at bottom-right)

You can also mail your used packaging to us here (simply click the location on the map, closest to you)

Welcome to!

It's a Good Idea to:

  • Seek truth over opinions.
  • Think critically about any issue.
  • Be open minded and follow the facts where they lead.

We are here to help. Molded EPS and other similar materials we produce are really good at cushioning and insulation. But that also means they are not good at everything and thus should not be used for all applications. They should be sourced - when and where it makes sense.

All materials have some impact on the environment, unless they are made out of nothing. EPS comes pretty darn close to "nothing" because it's 98% air, but it does have some impact.The question then becomes, is the impact offset by the utility or service of the material?

Another aspect to the impact issue is, what we (consumers) choose to do with the material after it has done its job. Littering is one option, just throw it out the window. That's not advisable, but it is one action a person can take and sadly some do. There are much better solutions though and far better Good Ideas. We are here to help. Please keep reading...

We produce a lot of insulated shipping containers like the one in this picture, in addition to many other molded foam products and packaging.

A molded EPS box like this is very much at ease keeping your _______ from getting too hot or cold. Largely because it is over 97% air, it is a natural insulator. Think about that - 97% air. If you were designing a new material from scratch and wanted it to be "green" (environmentally friendly) would making it out of almost all air be a good place to start? Yes!

 So with molded EPS we begin in a good; Sustainable, Clean, Safe, Efficient and Reliable place. To read more about that, click here.

Ok, so that is all good news and a great place to begin, but, what to do with this container after it's done it's job? Recycling is one option and you can get assistance with that below, but there are other solutions too. Keep reading to learn more and if you don't find what you need please feel free to contact us via this email link.

Material Supply Chain definition - in the past: A network created amongst different companies producing, handling and/or distributing a specific product.

Material Supply Chain definition - 2020: A network created amongst different companies producing, handling and/or distributing a specific product and taking responsibility for the same products, especially disposable packaging - after their intended use.

While we're "talking..." how much EPS is out there anyway?

You've found the right spot to get help recycling your used packaging - or putting it back into service.

 Are you a Nutrisystem customer? Click here for our internal drop off locations. Follow this link for many more... (please also take a moment to read the Q&A and 1 thru 5, below, it will save you time).

 Before we proceed, here are some answers to some common questions...  

Q - Why can’t I just recycle foam packaging this at my curbside?
A - This has been attempted in several municipalities.  The return rates were so low that the programs were not economically viable and consumed more natural resources than they saved.

Q – Do you know why the rates were so low?
A – If you think about it, foam packaging normally only comes into your home occasionally; when you buy something new like a television, computer or appliance, sometimes also with speciality frozen foods. Many paper, glass and metal products are entering your household every single day, largely packaging day-to-day food and beverages items. So there is a lot less foam packaging to begin with and not everyone recycles.

For both small and large businesses (receiving foam packaging on a more regular basis) we can and have set up specific recycling programs. If your needs fall into this category, please let us know or call 800-626-1197.

Q - What foam and/or packaging do you take back and recycle?
A – The simple thing to do is to look for the “reuseps” name and/or a number "6". If you see this either - it’s EPS (expanded polystyrene) or Arcel and we’ll gladly recycle it.

 Q – So, is much polystyrene recycled?
 A – Yes! Just follow this link for an update and more detail...  EPS recycleing rates/trends

Q – What do I do next?

One option is reuse. Many civic and community based organizations would love to have a free cooler. Think about food banks, Good Will, animal shelters and fire depts. These are just to name a few we have had very good luck with, re-purposing molded EPS coolers. This is an easy, local and low cost option. As you keep reading, there are more...

  1. Look on our map of locations to find our nearest factory to you and print or write down the address FFI map. If you happen to be near one of our plants, just bring the foam in.
  2. One easy shipping solution is at your local post office, they have at least three sizes of standard mailers (boxes).  The large one is 12” x 12” x 5.5”.  There are also two smaller ones (11” x 8.5” x 5.5” and 11.6” x 3.3” x 13.8”). Most packaging will fit in one of these. Break the packaging up to make sure it fits in the smallest sized box. Want more info on this? See USPS (select "for mailing/shipping" then "flat rate")
  3. The large box costs $12.95 and the smaller two cost $9.80ea.  This flat rate price includes the boxes and shipping to any of our plants, from wherever you are in the continental U.S.
  4. Mail it to us and we’ll recycle it.
  5. Who pays $$$ ? You have to pay to get the foam to a recycling location. You pay now for all recycling, whether it's at your curb or you drive it to somewhere. We then absorb the costs (sorting, reprocessing, energy, equip, etc...)  from there. So this is an everyone pitching in deal to make it work. Thanks for helping to do your part.

There are more options further down this same page...

  • Here's a list of over 200 more molded foam recycling drop-off locations 200+ more...
  • This is a link to even more molded foam recycling options EPS-IA In some cases it may save you money to use your own box, particularly if the foam to be recycled is very small or if you’re near one of our factories.

Why USPS? With USPS there is virtually no added resource consumption and/or pollution. People are already going to the post office and then the used packaging travels in a system that’s already up and moving…

Do you want help setting up a polystyrene recycling program? Here it is... set up a program

Do you need help with recycling in another country?

Follow this link for direct contacts to industrialized countries outside of the U.S. global

For more general information on global recycling resources... more outsie the U.S.

Do you need help with loose fill (peanuts) or food service packaging?

Follow this link for peanuts loose fill 

And here for food service (plates, forks, etc...) food pkg

General Q & A...

Q – Why do I have to pay for shipping?
A – You may not have to, USPS is just one option. Having said that, recycling, while positive in many ways, does cost time and money. We have to buy extra equipment, pay for labor, take extra processing steps, etc… we don’t charge for any of that. So, we’re doing “our part” by providing a national resource whereby consumers and business can avoid taking packaging to the landfill, if they so choose. Sometimes there’s also a cost for you doing “your part”. Either way - by working together, we can get the recycling job done!

And, we all pay for things like curbside recycling anyway… as you see in your waste disposal/recycling bill, and property taxes – recycling all materials has a cost.

Q - How does Foam Fabricators recycle the EPS?
A – Most of the time we grind it up and remold the foam into new packaging.  However, have you ever noticed those little white particles in potting soil? Do you know what fills many bean bag chairs and doll bodies? What makes light weight cement and concrete blocks, light? How about plastic decorative wood-like trim? These are just some of the other "permanent second life" uses of molded foam packaging that we support.

Q – What if my foam does not have a “reuseps” logo?
A – Try to find another number on it, usually a 6 (EPS) or a 5 (EPP – polypropylene).  If it’s a 5 or a 6 we can probably recycle it and you can send it…

If you have other packaging recycling needs or need help with this program, just email us at or call us at 800-626-1197

Q – Do I have any other recycling options?
A – Yes. We're also part of a larger recycling organization, the EPS-IA  (Expanded Polystyrene Industry Assoc.) EPS-IA (same as above). See this website for more free recycling options.

Life Cycle Inventories (LCI) - Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) - Carbon Footprint Analysis (CFA)


Paper and/or starch are “good” and plastic is “bad" - is a misconception that the studies (below) are correcting.
There are several studies here and some are long and complicated, because, assessing the full impact of a packaging material on our environment is big and complicated task. 
However, they all, in the end, say the same thing; molded foam is no more harmful than paper and/or starch alternatives (all material have some impact) and in many cases 
it is an environmentally preferable solution.

LCA bar graph (one page overview)

BASF study (from "industry" but a lot of good information)

LCA Paper Foam (corrugated insert vs molded eps)

LCI EPS Paper (polystrene vs paper in foodservice)

TV Pkg (European eps TV packaging)

Full Franklin Study

Franklin (addendum)

LCI methodology

Whould you like more information about recycling, EPS or our company?  Just scroll back to the top of this page and choose any topic on the left hand side.

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