Expanded polystyrene (EPS)

What is expanded polystyrene?

Expanded polystyrene, or EPS, is a widely used commodity polymer. It has been a material of choice for more than 50 years because of its versatility, performance and cost-effectiveness. EPS is found in many everyday applications, such as chilled produce boxes, for example for fish, bicycle helmets and insulation materials.

Properties of expanded polystyrene

EPS is a thermoplastic foam product with a unique combination of qualities. It is lightweight, strong and durable, with shock absorption and insulating properties, and excellent processability.

How expanded polystyrene is used

EPS is used for many applications, including:

  • Thermal insulation in buildings
  • Sound insulation
  • Road construction
  • Packaging
  • Food packaging to maintain the temperature of hot or cold food and prevent spoilage
  • Protection for valuable and fragile goods
  • Crash helmets
  • Windsurfing boards

As EPS is 98% air, it adds very little weight to packaging and therefore minimises fuel emissions during transportation. A durable and highly efficient thermal insulator, it is frequently used in the construction of buildings, thereby reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool our homes.

Expanded polystyrene innovations

Many of the world’s professional bee-keepers use beehives made from EPS. Their lightweight properties mean they are easy to move from place to place so that bees can pollinate crops and find new food sources. The outstanding insulation properties of EPS keep bees warm in winter and cool in summer, minimising stress and contributing to their protection.