Tell me more about Polystyrene

One of the most common questions we get here at Formance is about the foam core used in the panels and goes like this:

“How can Formance SIPs be eco-friendly if they use EPS (expanded polystyrene). Polystyrene ANYTHING is terrible for the environment!”

Fair question, after all, polystyrene is up there with coal-fired power stations in most people’s minds when it comes to distinctly environmentally-unfriendly things. We tend to think of it as being something that can’t be recycled, meaning that it goes into the landfill – so what gives?

The fact is EPS is recycleable. In fact it's the only rigid foam product that is. Choosing any other rigid foam product for your building material will leave a legacy of ecological issues as buildings are replaced or modified down the track. 

The OSB/EPS SIP is one of the most environmentally-friendly building materials and one we're proud to offer for projects all over New Zealand. 

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Here's how Formance deals with EPS in our supply chain:

  • Whenever possible any offcuts or waste EPS is sent directly for recycling from the factory thereby reducing waste from the supply chain.
  • There is a small amount of extra EPS that is sent to the building site because it is used as packaging to protect the panels during transport.
  • Where possible this extra EPS is returned to Formance in large wool bales.  Formance takes this to Waste Management for recycling.
  • Both the factory and the extra transport EPS waste is treated the same.  It is fed into a mechanical shredder which breaks it up into small chunks.  These small chunks are then compacted into dense blocks of polystyrene.
  • These blocks are sent to a plastic processing factory where the blocks are granulated and fed into a plastic extrusion machine.  This machine heats the plastic and extrudes it into thin streams of plastic.  These streams are cut into beads and bagged up for sale.  These bags of plastic beads are sold to factories that use an injection moulding machine to manufacture all sorts of plastic products (eg plastic picture frames).
  • If there is any EPS cutting required onsite we prefer the installers use heat to melt the EPS so that the small beads don’t blow around and enter the environment.  We have a range of tools available to achieve this including hot wires, hot blades and soldering irons.


For a full overview of Formance and its positive impact on the environment download the Eco-sustainability paper.

If you've got any more questions about the environmental friendliness of our EPS, or the recycling process we use, then please don't hesitate to contact the Formance team today. 

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