Recyclable Foam, Building Construction Innovation

August 25, 2015

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam has always been recyclable, but the uses of recycled foam are now becoming more broad thanks to Insulfoam and CityMix’s new process. The two companies have developed an innovative new way to recycle foam into a lightweight concrete additive that makes use of the 1-2% of Insulfoam’s in-plant waste.

The foam manufacturer Insulfoam has a mission of green production. With the knowledge that EPS foam is recyclable they are always looking for ways to recycle EPS foam into usable products and solutions. CityMix, the producer of this new EPS foam born concrete, is excited about its commitment to diverting additional waste from the landfill.

Since concrete products are usually comprised from rurally mined organic materials that require a lot of energy to process, the possible carbon reduction by wide-scale utilization of CityMix is significant. Recycling EPS foam waste into concrete products offers the construction industry, activists, businesses and communities an environmentally beneficial opportunity.

In addition, the polystyrene additive is used as a partial substitute material for the heavy sand and gravel commonly used for cement production. EPS foam reduces the unit weight of concrete, which in turn reduces the weight of structures resulting in a lessening of hauling costs and worker fatigue. In addition, it enhances the performance of concrete, including improved flexibility and resilience, improved crack resistance, and reduced water absorption.

The reuse of polystyrene foam by the Insulfoam and CityMix partnership certainly solves a problem in the construction world while simultaneously helping the environment. However, construction is not the only industry that recycled foam is used in the creation of environmentally sound products. EPS foam is recycled every day to make surfboards, DVD cases, children’s toys and a variety of other plastic products.

Discovering new ways in which foam can make a difference is a key component of preventing foam from being banned. The prevention of foam bans starts with education. Popular alternatives are far for more likely to end up in landfills than foam food containers. In fact, polystyrene products make up less than 2% by both weight and volume of our landfill waste. Further, some consumers have access to foam recycling locations. Hopefully, more consumers will turn to foam recycling so that businesses and industries can continue to use EPS foam to innovate, and in turn make our planet a cleaner place to live.