What is Molded Polystyrene?

What is polystyrene?
What is Molded Polystyrene?
Does polystyrene foam insulation or packaging materials contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or HCFCs?
What are CFCs?  And what is their impact on the ozone?
Are polystyrene foam products recyclable?
Is polystyrene Biodegradable?
What are the benefits of molded polystyrene thermal insulation and foam packaging?
Does polystyrene give off toxic emissions when incinerated?
Is polystyrene considered toxic and does it contain formaldehyde?
Is molded polystyrene the same as extruded polystyrene (XPS)?


What is polystyrene?

We benefit daily from products manufactured from polystyrene plastic, including thermal insulation for construction applications and cushion packaging for industrial and consumer applications.

There are two common types of polystyrene foam: extruded polystyrene (popularly known by its Dow trademark, Styrofoam®) and molded polystyrene. Most food service applications, including meat trays, egg cartons, hamburger clam shells, foam plates and trays, are extruded polystyrene. However, the common coffee cup is expanded polystyrene as is almost all industrial cushion packaging. This is the cellular white molded foam that is used to package televisions, stereos, computers, delicate electronic equipment and other fragile industrial and consumer products.

Both molded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene are used extensively as thermal insulation in industrial, commercial and residential construction.

What is molded polystyrene?

Molded Polystyrene is a thermoplastic, closed-cell, lightweight, rigid-foam plastic. The low thermal conductivity, high compressive, strength and excellent shock absorption properties of polystyrene make it an ideal material for residential and commmercial building insulation, shipping and packaging material, and to shape foundry patterns for metal casting.

ACH Foam Technologies uses the latest technology and equipment to manufacture a variety of standardized and customized products from polystyrene, polyethylene, Arcel, graphite polystyrene, and .


Does polystyrene foam insulation and packaging materials contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or HCFCs?

No. Polystyrene foam products have never been manufactured with CFCs. The expansion agent for polystyrene material is pentane.

What are CFC's?  What is their impact on the ozone? 

The term "CFC" usually refers to "fully halogenated chlorofluorocarbons" which are a family of chemical compounds used mainly as refrigerants for freezers, refrigerators and air-conditioning units and as industrial cleansing solvents primarily in the high-tech industry. CFCs are also used as an expansion agent in the manufacture of isocyanurate thermal insulation, some extruded polystyrene foam used for thermal insulation, and food service containers.

When released into the atmosphere, CFCs rise to the stratosphere where they break down and release chlorine. The chlorine then acts to reduce the stratospheric ozone layer, causing an increase in the amount of harmful ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth.

Are polystyrene foam products recyclable?

Yes. Indeed, all plastics can be reused. Recycling is a way to reduce the amount of trash that needs disposal and to conserve valuable raw materials. The plastics industry is working actively to develop recycling programs that are both efficient and economical.

Is polystyrene biodegradable?

Although polystyrene foam does not biodegrade, it is benign to the environment and provides a stable fill material similar to earth, rock or concrete. This allows for safe landfill reclamation for parks, schools, ball fields, golf courses and other public or greenbelt utilization. Our goal should be to limit materials from getting to the landfill through source reduction, aggressive recycling and other environmentally sound waste-management programs. 
ACH Foam Technologies does offer a biodegradable loose fill packaging peanut product.

What are the benefits of polystyrene thermal insulation and foam packaging products?

Polystyrene foam products – whether used for insulation or packaging – are lightweight, versatile, sanitary, energy efficient and most of all cost effective. The manufacture of polystyrene foam uses less energy than that used in the manufacture of paper-based alternatives. According to The Midwest Research Institute study on special packaging applications, the total energy requirements to make plastic containers (including both processing and materials energy) were lower than or equal to the energy consumed to make competing materials.

Furthermore, polystyrene's physical properties allow for almost universal application. Information regarding the suitability of polystyrene for a specific application is available upon request.

Does polystyrene foam give off toxic emissions when incinerated?

No. Polystyrene foam's chemical makeup consists of carbon and hydrogen. When completely combusted, it gives off water vapor, carbon dioxide and trace levels of ash – the same as paper.

Is polystyrene considered toxic & does it contain formaldehyde?

The simple chemical makeup of polystyrene is carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – elements found in wood and other organic materials.  Polystyrene foam products do NOT contain formaldehyde.

Is molded polystyrene the same as extruded polystyrene?

No. Extruded polystyrene (often in colors such as pink, blue or green) uses a different blowing agent and a different manufacturing process. White molded polystyrene, unlike extruded, is available in many different densities and thicknesses. Polystyrene insulation systems dramatically reduce energy consumption and pollution.