What Are The Sustainability Credentials of EPS?
EPS has outstanding thermal insulation qualities which make it a first choice material for many construction applications. EPS reduces CO2 emissions by up to 50% – making sure it more than offsets its small carbon footprint – giving maximum return for minimal resource.
Heating and cooling of buildings accounts for around half of Europe’s total energy consumption. By acting as a highly efficient thermal insulator, EPS can also make a significant contribution to reducing fossil fuel for these purposes. In turn, this helps reduce SO2 and SO3 emissions – a major cause of acid rain.
Facts About EPS
- EPS is 98% air. This makes EPS a uniquely resource-efficient material with a small carbon footprint
- EPS is extremely lightweight; this helps to reduce fuel consumption, when products are transported compared to other heavier materials
- Thousands of tonnes of EPS are recycled every year in the UK. As a single polymer EPS is straightforward to recycle
- EPS is HFC, CFC and HCFC free. Pentane is used as its blowing agent, which also has a low Global Warming Potential* (GWP) of less than five. (The EU does not register pentane as a substance hazardous to human health or the environment.)
A+ BRE Green Guide Rating
Expanded Polystyrene – a leading insulation material for construction industry applications – has scored the highest A+ summary rating in every one of four different densities tested in the latest and most rigorous BRE Global Green Guide to Specification. This is supported by at least eight ‘straight A’s’ in each of the separate impact ratings for each EPS density.
BRE is the UK’s foremost authority on sustainable construction and the BRE Green Guide is the most authoritative source of environmental credentials for materials used throughout the industry. It categorises materials according to their type and application – in this case, EPS for insulation – and analyses them according to their environmental performance across thirteen demanding impact assessments. These range from climate change impact to stratospheric ozone depletion, eco toxicity and fossil fuel depletion.
The results for EPS show that, in every density measured, EPS had a summary result of A+ – the highest BRE rating meaning the lowest environmental impact. In fact, when measured across all impact assessments, EPS scored As, A+ or Bs in no less than ten of the thirteen environmental matrices.
EPS is recyclable at many stages of its life cycle. During production, all manufacturing waste can be fully reprocessed by milling or granulating into pellets and adding to the production mix without any detriment to the quality of the finished EPS product.
The integrity and performance of EPS can be expected to last at least the full lifetime of the building in which it is used. At the end of its useful life, however, the fact that EPS does not degrade or deteriorate throughout its life means that it is ideal for recovery and recycling.