Busting The Insulation Myths
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Green Value

The State of New York has been commenting on the environmental benefits of EPS and some would say they are not very informed, so

What are the environmental Impacts?

Is EPS Safe?

Myth: EPS is not a Green product and clogs landfills
False - EPS is very Green

100% Recyclable

Post Consumer EPS Recycling Rates

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2013 - over 127 Million Pounds of EPS was recycled
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2013 - over 34% of post consumer EPS was recycled
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2013 - less than .003% of total waste in landfills is EPS and most of that could have been recycled
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98% of EPS contains regular air, which is what we breath, and 2% carbon and hydrogen

Responsible, Low Impact Manufacturing

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Steam is used as energy in the manufacturing of EPS. The steam itself is produced in boilers mainly using natural gas as fuel. Water consumption used in the manufacture of EPS is very low. The water is reused many times in the process.
There is no solid waste generated during the EPS manufacturing process. Waste and off-cuts are easily put back into the
production process. No material is wasted and clean EPS can be recycled into new product using this method.
There is no pollution to the surface or underground water supplies near an EPS plant because atmospheric and liquid
emissions are very low during the manufacture of EPS.
EPS is very light to transport as 98% of the product is air. Fuel saving is realized due to the reduction in load weight.
Note: According to the Department of Energy (DOE): “Beyond the environmental benefits of the installed product, the energy requirements to make polystyrene can be more favorable than some alternative materials. In one study, when compared to fiberglass insulation, the energy required to produce polystyrene insulation is 24 percent less than what is needed to make the amount of fiberglass needed to achieve an equivalent R-value at a representative volume”.

Health and Safety

During Production
During the manufacturing of Expanded Polystyrene, emission levels are very low due in part to the fact that “air” makes up 98% of its volume. Much research has been done on the raw material styrene and has been found to be perfectly safe in normal uses. Polystyrene has a maximum styrene content of only 0.1% by weight, and since EPS contains only 2% polystyrene by volume, this minute trace of styrene monomer poses no threat to health whatsoever.

A small amount of pentane is incorporated into the expandable polystyrene granules as a expanding agent. It is a saturated hydrocarbon, not to be confused with HCFCs and CFCs. Pentane is non-toxic and constitutes no threat to the ozone layer.

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Building products require some type of fire retardant in them by law. The EPS industry has been using hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) as a fire retarder for years and is in such a minute quantity ( .5% by weight) that it has been shown not to cause any health risks. Opponents to the EPS industry have tried to make HBCD sound like enemy #1, however they do not tell you that HBCD remains within the closed cells of EPS and does not dissolve in water. The real question is whether adding in any type of fire retardant into a product is worth the additional cost, as well as any other risks? In response to ongoing questions about the ecological safety of HBCD, even though 10 studies have concluded, “HBCD is not entering the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a risk to human health, the chemical industry has announced the development of an innovative flame retardant (FR) that may be suitable alternative for use in expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. An Action Plan is forming to determine the best course of action for the industry. Lean More
During Construction
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EPS has long been considered a pleasant material to work with. Unlike other foam materials that have fibers that cause skin itching or stick to the skin, EPS is safe to handle. Another benefit of EPS in respect to safety, health and well-being is its exceptional light weight. No heavy equipment to mix it or blow it in the field. EPS is easy to cut and very easy to install.

During Use and Indoor Enviroment
Unlike other insulations, EPS does not off-gas but rather holds its R-value which provides good indoor air quality. EPS offers superior mold and mildew resistance as well as good thermal resistance which helps to provide comfortable land healthy living. Good materials and good construction can lead to extended building life and can reduce landfill waste helping the enviroment. Even during restoration, renovation or demolition, EPS continues to be a safe building material.
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EPS Green Building Credits
EPS can contribute to achieving green building ratings in the following categories.
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  • EPS insulation facilitates compliance with ASHRAE 90.1-2004.
  • EPS can be manufactured in a variety of densities and thicknesses to meet environmental design criteria to deliver a range of R-value specifications.
  • EPS has always been CFC and HCFC free.
  • EPS is the only rigid foam insulation that provides long-term thermal resistance that does not need to be adjusted for age.
  • EPS building systems reduce air leakage for increased thermal efficiency.
  • Recycled content EPS that meets ASTM C578 minimum performance properties can be specified for rigid foam insulation.
  • Recycled content polystyrene can be specified when procuring plastic lumber, interior trim, lightweight concrete, asphalt aggregate and other building products.
  • Plymouth Foam EPS is manufactured locally, minimizing its distribution radius. Because it is lightweight EPS reduces transportation costs and energy.
  • EPS is not known to adversely affect indoor air quality.
  • EPS mold resistance tests favorably in accordance with ASTM C1338.
  • EPS building systems can prevent noise transmission, resulting in quieter buildings.
  • EPS insulation helps maintain a consistent air temperature.
  • EPS insulation reduces impacts on the microclimate.
  • EPS geofoam maintains ecological integrity and reduces erosions through soil stabilization.
  • EPS frost protected shallow foundations (FPSF’s) minimize excavation below the frost line and are ideal for sites with high groundwater table.
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