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    January 14, 2009
    ACH Urges Users to Join Collaborative EPS Recycling Campaign
    ACH Urges Users to Join Collaborative EPS Recycling Campaign

    DENVER, CO — ACH Foam Technologies is asking its business partners and end-users to join in a collaborative EPS (expanded polystyrene) packaging recycling effort. ACH, a major EPS manufacturer, uses a closed loop manufacturing model in the production of its EPS products. ACH manufactures EPS for packaging, construction and geotechnical applications in 10 plants across the US.

    “We are working with the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) to ensure increased awareness and participation in the recycling of EPS packaging,” said ACH VP, Operations, Todd Huempfner. “All of our products are produced with nearly zero expanded polystyrene product waste,” explained Huempfner. “Water in the process is re-used over and over again. We either feed scrap EPS into our grinder to be recycled into new packaging and in many cases it becomes a green building construction product, or we apply heat and pressure to turn the EPS into a denser molded block. The densified blocks are then palletized and sent to a national reprocessing facility, where they are made into molded products such as baseboard trim, for example,” he explained.

    According to Huempfner, the “greenness” of EPS lies in the entire lifecycle of the product. “EPS uses less energy and resources to manufacture, transport and recover than comparable paper and coated paperboard products. Basically, the only environmental footprint EPS leaves is un-recycled product. That means it’s up to end-users and corporate partners to participate in the recycling effort,” Huempfner added.

    32 million pounds of post-consumer EPS were recycled in 2006, up from 25 million pounds in 2004. “We’re at 28% recycling in 2006 but that number needs to be much higher,” said Huempfner. The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers releases recycling rates every 2 years; 2008 rates will be available in mid-2009. There is a curbside program in Los Angeles for recycling clean polystyrene products. No such program exists for coated paperboard products.

    The manufacturing process for EPS is very clean. First, the original polystyrene beads are expanded with the use of steam. The pentane-loaded bead is exposed to pressurized steam that causes the polystyrene to expand and mold into the desired shape and density needed. Manufacturing EPS does not involve the use of ozone depleting CFCs or HCFCs. The final product is a moisture resistant closed-cell structure that is comprised of 98 percent air. Despite its light weight, this plastic can possess a compressive strength of up to 46 psi.

    EPS is renowned for its superior performance properties, which make it one of the most efficient packaging and insulating materials. The use of EPS packaging offsets millions of gallons of gas and emissions (EPS weighs half as much as comparable coated paperboard products), and is the most protective of the products being shipped, which reduces waste due to breakage in transit. EPS also has superior insulating qualities which protect perishables during transit.

    The EPS recycling process was featured on the Discovery Channel’s G-Word Spotlight. It can be viewed at online.  See Video

    ACH Foam Technologies’ plants are drop-off facilities for smaller quantities of post-consumer EPS packaging from any clean (non-food contaminated) source. ACH will refer consumers to the proper professional recycling facility when the quantities to be recycled surpass ACH’s capabilities. Those who don’t have access to a drop-off site are using different methods of recycling their EPS packaging, such as the mail-back program (see Tips on Recycling list below).

    Huempfner adds, “ACH and the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers can’t do this alone. The post-consumer recycling piece is the last piece in the puzzle of sustainability for EPS. We’re doing our part by recycling 100% of the post-industrial scrap generated from the manufacturing process and providing our EPS recycling capabilities to businesses and consumers within our recycling capacities. With the help of EPS packaging customers, distributors and end-users we can all further increase EPS recycling rates.”

    For detailed information on mail-in and drop-off sites for EPS, and for a brochure on how to set up a corporate recycling program.  Learn More

    About ACH Foam Technologies

    For specifications, technical data and studies go to or call ACH Foam Technologies at 800.525.8697.For over four decades ACH Foam Technologies has been an industry leader in EPS manufacturing, providing products for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. With locations throughout the U.S., ACH is positioned to offer convenient, valuable, and complete solutions for its customers. ACH recycles 100% of its post-industrial EPS and is actively involved in recycling post-consumer EPS as well.