Making positive changes for the environment can often feel like a zero-sum game – or worse, a one-step forward for two-step back situation. Proposed policy changes often include suggestions that lack feasibility or look good on paper but play out poorly in practice. The most popular adaptations are often consumer-driven, even though corporations are the primary polluters. This is particularly true of plastic, for which just twenty companies account for 55% of global plastic waste. However, it is not uncommon to see new legislation proposals attempt to reduce plastic pollution from large companies by mandating a percentage decrease yearly in plastic packaging, particularly EPS foam packaging. Unfortunately, such a policy could do more harm than good.
Legislation proposals that call for yearly decreases target single-use plastics, the category into which EPS foam packaging falls. Legislation looking to reduce EPS use wants companies to use corrugated die-cut (cardboard) instead of EPS due to its recycling ability in many municipalities. However, this solution has failed to answer some pressing questions. For instance, How much corrugated die cut do companies need to replace EPS cushioning? In most situations, the answer is three to four times the volume or weight of compatible plastic materials. It is also unclear whether corrugated cardboard can maintain the same level of goods damaged during transit. There is much speculation that its inability to absorb shock at the same level as EPS foam would increase damaged goods. Using ultra-conservative assumptions, if material bans caused a 1% increase in damage rates, the U.S. alone would experience $168.4 million in added costs for e-commerce shipments. The EPS Industry Alliance (EPS-IA) is looking carefully at the data and ways for the industry to continue its commitment to sustainability.
Rather than banning or demanding a decrease in EPS foam, all parties involved, including the environment, would be better served by increasing the ease of recycling. If you would like further information on Altor Solutions’ recycling initiatives and commitment to sustainability, we encourage you to visit our website: https://altorsolutions.com/recycle-eps/.
Plymouth Foam and the entire Altor Solutions family of brands are committed to helping you package your product in the most environmentally advantageous way possible. Work with our experienced packaging design engineers by emailing email@example.com.