Materials and the environment

Plastic are the result of petroleum conversion into more complex materials. These value added materials offer a wide variety of properties and they can be shaped by a moulding process. It is important to realize that with plastics, the transformed petroleum is not burned and transformed into CO2. It is transformed into a useful material that often replaces heavier metal. Plastics materials are ecological as they contribute by their lightness to reduce the overall energy consumption.

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The environmental impact is an important element when comes the time to choose the right material for a product. The choice we make will have an impact on the life of our future generations.

Whether innovating for a new product or improving an existing one, the designer must act responsibly in regards to the environment. Plastic materials allow efficient and eco-friendly solutions when all their life cycle factors are taken into consideration.


Expanded polymers (EPS, EPP, EPE) are plastic materials with a cellular structure filled with air at 98 %. They contain very little natural resources and they are all recyclable.

The expansion of EPS is done by injecting low pressure steam on small polystyrene beads. The moist heat dilates the pentane contained in the cells (in a 3 % to 6 % proportion), causing the small beads to expand. During an aging process of a few days, air replaces the pentane that naturally dissolves (24-hour half-life). Pentane is not a CFC, therefore it doesn’t attack the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

Products made from expanded resins are a result of a simple and clean thermal process. There are no toxic wastes.

The total amount of energy required to fabricate EPS parts is 3 X less than that required for the transformation of comparable paper products. EPS is a logical choice that reduces the impact on the environment:

  • Less energy
  • Preserved forests
  • Less polluted water
  • Less polluted atmosphere

If a material was made of 100 % air, it would be, without a say, the most eco-friendly one. Since EPS is made of 98 % air, isn’t it very close to perfection?

Expanded plastics offer numerous efficient and eco-friendly solutions.

Eco-friendly properties of EPS (expanded polystyrene):

  • Insulating: Every bead is made of closed cells filled with air. This cellular structure ensures a very high level of thermal insulation. An expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation product can help save up to 3 X more energy than the amount required for its production. EPS insulation can help significantly reduce the energy consumption, therefore reducing the cost of heating.
  • Lightweight: EPS packaging helps protect delicate products and at the same time, reduce the weight of the shipment. The shipping of a lighter load therefore requires less fuel and consequently produces less emissions.
  • Sustainable: Thanks to its inert, stable and insoluble nature, EPS is a sustainable product destined to a long life, such as bicycle helmets, insulating panels and Geofoam blocks
  • Harmless for the ozone layer: Expanded polystyrene (EPS), expanded polypropylene (EPP) and expanded polyethylene (EPE) do not contain any CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) and never have used any. They therefore have no impact on the thinning of the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
  • Sanitary: EPS, EPP and EPE are inert materials, even in a humid environment. They do not promote the growth of mold and fungi.
  • Food: EPS packaging is effective in the protection of food against temperature variations. Freshness and flavours are therefore preserved, resulting in a decrease of wasted food
  • Eco-friendly: The manufacturing of expanded polymers products requires two to three times less energy than certain similar paper products. EPS is a material that contributes to reduce the global warming process.
  • Preserving our forests: Materials made from expanded resins are generally great alternatives to wood-based products, such as cardboard and paper (packaging, fish boxes, coffee cups, corner protectors, etc.). The use of expanded resins contributes to the safeguard of our forests.


If plastic were eliminated:

  • Waste mass would grow by over 250 %
  • Energy consumption would increase by over 200 %
  • Global pollution would increase by over 200 %

Plastic materials contribute to the protection of the environment and promote sustainable development. The positive environmental impact of plastics goes well beyond appearances and popular perceptions.

Plastic products are sometimes seen in the environment. They are light, they float and are often brightly coloured. If they are not dealt with in a responsible manner, they can be a source of upsetting visual distraction that must not be mistaken with damaging chemical pollution.

Many plastic-free products used on a daily basis will break down into their sub-products when buried in the environment. They will eventually dissolve in the ground and emit gazes, contaminating the air and groundwater in a furtive way.

EPS, EPP and EPE do not decompose in the environment. They are inert and stable, just like rocks and are a responsible solution when it comes to reducing the damage done to the Earth.