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Is EPE Foam Biodegradable And Can It Be Recycled?

What is EPE and recycle EPE waste?

EPE foam (Polyethylene foam) is the largest and most common production of plastic, which is a type of thermoplastic resin. There are many known polythene products, with most having the chemical formula (C₂H₄)nH₂. There are high density, medium, and low-density polyethylene. PE is tasteless, odorless and harmless. EPE is white, flexible, light and easy to bend. EPE is a new kind of foaming material with shock absorbing materials and strong cushioning. Is EPE foam biodegradable and can it be recycled? EPE can be recycled, but the recycling companies in this line are very few. The global recycling rate of EPE is, therefore, very low. Conventional methods such as burning and landfill can cause environmental pollution. This is why melting PE or foam compacting is necessary.

Why polyethylene is not biodegradable

The term in-biodegradable is used to describe polymers that do not break at any point to a natural, environmentally friendly conditions over biological processes. A majority of plastics are non-biodegradable because plastic is widely used as it is cheap, durable and versatile. However, certain conditions fasten the degrading process of polythene. They include; moisture, oxygen, sunlight, composting and biodegradation enhancement through reduction of the hydrophobic polymer, and an increase of hydrophilic properties.

Can polyurethane foam be recycled?

Depending on the type of polyurethane, various recycling methods can be used. They include; reuse or particle bonding and grinding. For example, polyurethane foam is turned into carpet underlay. If polyurethane foam is not recycled, the preferred action is energy recovery.

Is polyurethane environmentally friendly?

Polyolefin materials (Polypropylene and Polyethylene) have the lowest environmental impact compared to other material, traditional or synthetic products. Polyolefin is formed from natural polyolefin resins. It has good electrical properties, acids, alkalis, good chemical resistance to solvents, resistance to environmental stress and good durability.

Whenever you hear of plastic and environment, what comes in your mind is a picture of PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) binder lying in a landfill, toxic and unscathed, for a hundred years. However, all plastics are not equal in this perspective. Fifty years ago, two new members of the polyolefin family were born; Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE). The two plastics can do all the functions of the traditional glass, metal, paper or PVC. They can be die-cut for presentations and packaging, printed on; foil embossed as well as perform all the functions of binders and other traditional types of information packaging. PP and PE have a significant wear resistance and increased durability compared to traditional products such as paper. A distinct factor remains that these products are environmentally-friendly. Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE) benefit the environment because;

  • They are widely recycled
  • They are biodegradable (they break down to hydrogen and carbon).
  • They generate fewer waste products in disposal and production.
Final verdict

Every individual must research on the products they use for packaging goods and other uses to ensure they are not harmful to the environment. They do not produce toxic (like chlorine from PVC plastics) when burned. EPE foam is environmentally-friendly as it can be recycled and degraded under certain conditions.