Plastics Today: Eco-friendly expanded polystyrene is oxo-biodegradable and recyclable

December 18, 2018


Founded in 1958, Plastilite Corp. (Omaha, NE) quickly expanded from manufacturing products such as picnic coolers and minnow buckets for retail markets into applications for commercial packaging. The resulting products were a natural fit for an emerging mail order food industry. Since that time, millions of steaks, hams, turkeys and desserts have found their way to consumers in the company’s sturdy EPS foam molded shipping coolers.

Recently Integritemp, a division of Plastilite, announced the introduction of patent-pending ReFoam, an environmentally friendly expanded polystyrene (EPS) product that is both oxo-biodegradable and recyclable. “We’ve been in R&D mode with ReFoam for the last few years, working to create a material that will give our customers all the familiar benefits of EPS, but with added environmentally friendly end-of-life options,” said Jon Ehly, President and CEO.  “It really presents the best of both worlds. ReFoam has been lab tested to be shelf stable for a couple of years in dry storage conditions and remains recyclable. At the same time, materials that are disposed of in bio-reactive landfills, or escape into nature, will be submitted to conditions optimal for promoting the oxo-biodegradation process.”

Available in the first quarter of 2019, the ReFoam cooler oxo-biodegrades in sunlight and moisture. The EPS is blended with an additive that catalyzes degradation of the foam under a variety of conditions.

ReFoam will be able to replace traditional EPS in a number of products, such as foam-insulated shipping coolers, protective packaging and various retail and consumer goods. The arrival of ReFom will be a welcome alternative to those customers that have been demanding environmentally friendly options that are still affordable.

While recycling is still encouraged as the preferred method of EPS disposal, said the company, ReFoam can also uniquely reduce the environmental impact of discarding foam when recycling is not locally accessible or practical.