Solid Waste Issue
waste disposal is one of the biggest environmental challenges the
country faces. American municipalities have access to fewer landfills
and must meet tougher disposal laws than twenty five years ago. Yet
we're generating more solid waste than ever before over 1400
pounds of trash each year for every person in America. Clearly, we
can't ignore this problem.
issue of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and its relationship to
the solid waste crisis is one in which the facts often are not fully
have been some efforts to restrict the manufacture, use, and disposal
of EPS loose fill. We believe these actions arise from false perceptions
about our product.
concept of degradability is at the heart of the controversy regarding
the disposability of EPS products. Many people assume that because
EPS foam doesn't degrade rapidly, it must be a major problem in
true that EPS products do not degrade in landfills, but neither
do paper, food waste, and other so-called "degradable"
materials. Instead, they mummify in the oxygen-deprived or anaerobic
environment of modern landfills.
landfills are actually designed to minimize biodegradation in order
to prevent the generation of methane gas and leachate (liquid run-off)
which can cause ground water contamination.
conducted by the University of Arizona's Garbage Project support
our belief that plastic packaging does not contribute unduly to
the solid waste problem. Researchers found that paper waste is the
largest single component of landfills 50% by volume compared
to 10% for plastics.
and the "three R's"
it comes to reducing solid waste,
we have made the adage, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,
an industry commitment.
minimizing the materials used to make a product and any materials
which are left over after its use. Modern technology makes it possible
to manufacture high-performance EPS loose fill with 50% less polystyrene
than that produced in 1974. And, thanks to the highly efficient
cushioning characteristics of EPS loose fill, less is needed to
protect merchandise in transit. Shippers who use other cushioning
products, have to use more and heavier material to achieve the quality
of protection of EPS loose fill. Reduced shipping weight benefits
everyone. Altogether, in form and function, EPS loose fill is source-reduction
at its best. But, that is only part of the story.
extending the life of a product. The durability and resiliency of
EPS loose fill makes it suitable for repeated reuse. Since 1991,
our national toll-free "Peanut Hotline," 800-828-2214, has directed
consumers to hundreds of businesses across the country which reuse
EPS loose fill. Our website also refers browsers to local businesses
that reuse EPS loosefill. Thousands of individuals contact the Hotline
each month and new collection centers enroll daily - contributing
to the success of one of America's most unique and extensive privately-funded
to incorporate used materials in new products. EPS manufacturers
routinely recycle EPS from consumers and from factories to make
new products. On average, EPS loose fills are manufactured with
approximately 25% recycled content. Recycling of EPS packaging material
is a highly energy efficient means of diverting post-consumer waste
from landfills. Recycling a pound of plastic requires only 1000
BTU's as compared to the 11,500 BTU's required for recycling the
same amount of paper.
Energy It Takes
production of all EPS products utilizes by-products of the petroleum
and natural gas industry. A small fraction of 1% of all petroleum
and natural gas consumed in the U.S. is used for all of the EPS
packaging products made in America. And loose fill alone is only
a small percentage of all EPS packaging. EPS loose fill takes less
energy to produce than alternative fillers made from paper. And
new technology has made it possible to make lighter EPS loose fills;
and, therefore, use 24% less energy in production than before.
Weight & Lower Cost
the environmental advantages of EPS loose fill, it is also a better
economic choice for most shippers. That helps contain costs passed
on to customers. Packaging cost audits show that EPS loose fill
can cost as much as 40% less than other packaging materials in overall
packaging and shipping expenses. The EPS loose fill in a box is
over 99.6% air.
Americans are now taking time to separate their garbage and recover
what is useful or recyclable. The Plastic Loose Fill Council's program
for reusing packing peanuts has delivered real savings for the environment.
Peanut Hotline collection site businesses report that consumer-donated
reusable loose fill results in a savings to them of an average of
50% on the purchase of new packaging fills. When you have more EPS
loose fill than you can use at home, use the Peanut Hotline at:
click on Drop-off Sites
Peanut Hotline will direct you to businesses willing to accept used
EPS loose fill for their own packaging needs. These collection sites
are typically small packaging or gift shops. They welcome the free
packaging material and the customer referrals.