FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING „ENVIRONMENT“

  1. Company
  2. Environmental Policy
  3. Frequently asked questions regarding "environment"

MOLDED PARTS AS PROTECTIVE PACKAGING FOR PRODUCT SHIPPING

Why do some shipping cartons contain Styrofoam shapes?

This transport packaging made of expanded polystyrene (EPS, otherwise known as Styrofoam®) is necessary in order to protect goods – sensitive products like computers, TVs, and refrigerators should arrive at their place of destination in perfect condition. If they are not securely blocked, braced, and cushioned in the carton, they can be damaged. As little material as possible is used. but at least enough to optimally protect products from knocks and slipping.  A broken product would not only be annoying for the recipient, but also bad for the environment: far more energy and resources are needed for the damaged product to be returned and for a new product to be manufactured and dispatched once again than for the manufacture of an EPS cushion.

Is there no alternative to EPS molded parts for product shipping?

Protective packaging involving other materials can be used, depending on the goods being shipped. Molded parts made of EPS are often needed when shipping heavy technical equipment like computers, TVs, or refrigerators as these parts are especially sturdy. But Storopack does also offer protective packaging made of paper, air cushions, or biodegradable packing peanuts for much lighter or smaller products.

MOLDED PARTS IN INDUSTRY

Where are plastic molded parts used?

When it comes to industrial production, technical molded parts made of expanded polypropylene (EPP) are indispensable in many sectors these days: the material is very light, very malleable, robust, shock-absorbent, offers excellent insulation, absorbs next to no water, and is recyclable. It is therefore used in, for example, automobile manufacture: molded parts made of EPP feature as built-in parts in various positions in a car, from the bumper and headrests to the seat inserts and cladding. They either provide passive safety and passenger protection or make the vehicles lighter by weighing so little, thus helping to reduce fuel consumption.

FOAM, AIR PILLOWS, AND PAPER CUSHIONING, AS WELL AS LOOSE FILL FOR PRODUCT SHIPPING

Why are there paper and air cushions in shipping boxes? The product in the box is often already packed.

If the product in the box isn’t protected, it can move around during shipping and can be damaged. This equally applies to packed products in a shipping box. And a broken product would not only be disappointing and inconvenient for the recipient, but also bad for the environment: far more energy and resources are needed for the damaged product to be returned and for a new product to be manufactured and dispatched once again than for the manufacture of paper or air cushions that prevent the product from being damaged.

Why are small products sometimes dispatched in very large boxes with a lot of protective packaging material?

As the manufacturer of protective packaging, Storopack has no direct influence over the size of the boxes and the amount of protective packaging material used by mail order companies. We do, however, offer our customers advice regarding efficient packaging processes in order to play our part in ensuring that only the protective packaging material that’s needed is actually used.

Can used Storopack products be sent back to Storopack for recycling?

Absolutely yes! However, for lowest environmental impact we suggest to dispose of products via the locally available disposal options, preferably via established collection for recycle. In most countries and communities the collection for plastics and paper for recycling are well established. Thus, it is the simplest and best way to contribute to the recycling of those products.

MANUFACTURING MATERIAL MOLDED PARTS

What are Storopack molded parts made of?

Storopack uses four different plastics in the form of expanded foam for its molded parts: polystyrene (EPS), commonly known as Styrofoam®, polypropylene (EPP), Neopor®, and Piocelan®. They are all very light, provide exceptional insulation, and reliably absorb shocks. This makes them highly versatile. Another advantage is the limited material requirements: EPS and Neopor®, for example, consist of up to 98 percent air and just 2 percent polystyrene, while EPP is up to 95 percent air and a mere 5 percent polypropylene. In addition, all of these plastics are 100 percent recyclable.

MANUFACTURING MATERIAL PAPERplus®

What are the paper cushions made from?

Our PAPERplus® protective packaging is made from FSC®-certified paper. FSC® stands for Forest Stewardship Council®, which is an international forestry certification system. We additionally always use the highest possible proportion of recycled paper.

MANUFACTURING MATERIAL AIRplus®

What are the air cushions made from?

AIRplus® air cushions are made from PE (polyethylene) film. We manufacture the films at our own production facilities. PE film is characterized in particular by the minimal use of resources for its manufacture and by its excellent mechanical properties – it is especially flexible, allowing you to reliably cushion, block and brace, and wrap all kinds of products.

Is recycled material used to make AIRplus® films?

It depends on the product. Some AIRplus® Void films contain recycled material, while other AIRplus® films do not.

What proportion of an AIRplus® film is made from recycled material?

Those films which are produced with recycle content do contain a minimum of 50% recycle.

What sort of carbon footprint does AIRplus® film have?

We have investigated if such data would be meaningful. As there are no standards for such studies we believe they are incomplete and misleading. Therefore, we have decided to stay away from such studies/statements.

MANUFACTURING MATERIAL PELASPAN® LOOSE FILL

What is loose fill made from?

Our PELASPAN® loose fill is made from compostable vegetable starch or recycled EPS (expanded polystyrene) which is 100% reusable.

What sort of carbon footprint and energy footprint does loose fill have?

We have investigated if such data would be meaningful. As there are no standards for such studies we believe they are incomplete and misleading. Therefore, we have decided to stay away from such studies/statements.

MANUFACTURING MATERIAL FOAMplus®

What is the foam packaging made from?

FOAMplus® foam packaging is made from expanded polyurethane. It can be reused as protective packaging or it can be recycled. For example, the foam can be used as packing material after being recycled.

Are there material safety data sheets (MSDS) available for expanded PU foam?

Yes, material safety data sheets are available upon request.

Is foam a harmful substance?

No, foam is a so-called inert substance, which means it is chemically stable and will not react on its own by getting in contact with air, water or other substances. However, Isocyanate as a liquid is a harmful substance and therefore must not come into contact with human beings! This is also marked on the drums which are shipped to customers.   

REUSE, RECYCLING, AND DISPOSAL OF PLASTIC MOLDED PARTS

Are plastic molded parts reusable?

Yes, expanded polypropylene (EPP) is the ideal basis for the kind of customized reusable packaging that Storopack offers because this extremely resilient material can withstand strain such as shocks and even repeated impacts during shipping – the molded part remains fully functional without any discernible damage and reliably protects the packaged goods. Storopack’s EPP packing can therefore be used for solutions with thousands of trips, for example as a cargo carrier for the shipment of sensitive bodywork or electronic components in the automotive industry.

Can Storopack molded parts be recycled?

Yes, all molded parts made of EPS and EPP are 100 percent recyclable. They can be treated and reused in a variety of industrial products or can be used as raw material for our loose fill.

What happens to technical molded parts if they are not recycled?

If molded parts can’t be recycled, they can be fully incinerated at a cogeneration plant to generate energy. The material is gratefully received by cogeneration plants: its high calorific value and full incineration make this thermal utilization highly efficient as a final step.

What can be made out of Storopack foam molded parts?

EPS molded parts can be used to make all kind of products made from Polystyrene. A good example is roof insulation made from XPS. An excellent internal example is Storopack EPS Loose Fill. EPP molded parts can be recycled and used for example as coat hangers. But also the product can be regrinded and used in the production of new EPP molded parts.

How much energy is used in production?

There is no single answer to this question as it depends on the molded part being manufactured.

How much water is used in production?

There is no single answer to this question as it depends on the molded part being manufactured.

How should molded parts be disposed of correctly?

This varies from country to country. As a consumer in, for example, Germany or Austria, you can simply dispose of molded parts in the “Gelber Sack” yellow bin bags or “Gelbe Tonne” yellow bins . They are then recycled or incinerated. The molded parts are a very welcome source of energy at waste-to-energy plants because they have a high calorific value and can be fully incinerated. Alternatively, they can be disposed of in household waste. The trade and industry sectors have their own disposal channels (industrial waste) via which technical molded parts are also recycled.

Can used Storopack products be sent back to Storopack for recycling?

Absolutely yes! However, for lowest environmental impact we suggest to dispose of products via the locally available disposal options, preferably via established collection for recycle. In most countries and communities the collection for plastics and paper for recycling are well established. Thus, it is the simplest and best way to contribute to the recycling of those products.

REUSE, RECYCLING, AND DISPOSAL OF FLEXIBLE PROTECTIVE PACKAGING

Which types of protective packaging can be reused?

All Storopack protective packaging can be reused. Non-business customers, for example, can use it to return a product or to send other products. And trade and industry can use loose fill which is returned to them to dispatch products once again.

Can Storopack protective packaging be recycled?

Yes, all of Storopack’s protective packaging is recyclable. It can be processed and reused in a variety of industrial products. The only exception are our loose fill products made from starch – they are not recyclable, but compostable.

Is Storopack’s protective packaging compostable?

Storopack also offers protective packaging which is industrially compostable, like AIRplus® BIO film, which can be used for the manufacture of air cushions. The film’s base material is a compostable plastic based on polylactic acid (PLA) and copolyester. The basis of the product is made using renewable resources. AIRplus® BIO is certified compostable in accordance with the European standard EN 13432 and the American standard ASTM D6400.

Our loose fill products PELASPAN® BIO and Renature® made from vegetable starch are likewise 100% compostable in accordance with EN 13432. They can be disposed of with the normal household trash or as organic waste.

Why isn’t all of Storopack’s protective packaging compostable?

Very different types of protective packaging can be needed depending on the goods being shipped. While fragile and lighter items like porcelain and glass can be ideally protected in a box using the compostable loose fill PELASPAN® BIO, heavy technical components require paper and foam packaging in order that the product is stabilized in the shipping box. This type of protective packaging isn’t compostable, but it can nevertheless easily be recycled.

Can PAPERplus® paper cushions be disposed of as compost?

No, a compost heap is not suitable for this and disposing of the cushions in this way would therefore be incorrect. It is better to put the paper cushions into the paper collection for recycling. They will then be recycled appropriately and used to manufacture new paper products.

What does the term “bioplastic” mean?

We have to make a distinction here between bio-based plastic, biodegradable plastic, and a mixture of the two. Bio-based plastic is made entirely or partially from biomass like corn, sugarcane, or cellulose. Compostable plastic is generally broken down into carbon dioxide and water under certain conditions. There are also “OXO-biodegradable plastics.” These are conventional plastics which have had metals added in order to make them biodegrade.

Why doesn’t Storopack use “OXO-biodegradable plastics”?

So-called OXO-biodegradable plastics should be avoided: many experts question whether the fragments (or microplastics, depending on the size) are truly fully biodegraded. Additionally, the additives in OXO-biodegradable plastics can have a negative impact on recycling.

For more information on bioplastics, see also: Article by the German Environment Agency (UBA) on bags made from bioplastic

How should protective packaging be disposed of correctly?

As a consumer in, for example, Germany or Austria, you can simply dispose of air cushions (ideally emptied of air) and loose fill in the “Gelber Sack” yellow bin bags or “Gelbe Tonne” yellow bins . They are then recycled or incinerated. Polyethylene is incidentally a very welcome source of energy at waste-to-energy plants because its calorific value is actually higher than that of oil. Alternatively, they can be disposed of in household trash. Paper cushions belong in the paper collection bin/in bundles for paper collection, while foam packaging should go in the household trash. The trade and industry sectors have their own disposal channels (industrial waste) via which foam packaging is also recycled.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

How does Storopack contribute to protecting the environment?

As a rule, Storopack focuses on sustainability in accordance with the “4 Rs” principle of REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, and RENEW. For more information, go to https://www.storopack.com/company/environmental-policy/

We pay attention to using limited resources and energy in the production of our protective packaging and technical molded parts. This is why many of our products are made using recycling materials and can be recycled themselves after use. Our products which are branded as “Bio” are made from renewable resources, are biodegradable, and are certified by independent institutes (DIN CERTCO – www.dincertco.de and BPI – www.bpiworld.org). Wherever possible, the Storopack production plants use energy sourced from waste heat. We also manufacture without generating chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). And last, but not least, the low weight of our protective packaging and molded parts plays a part in reducing fuel consumption during shipment.

Is the manufacture of plastic molded parts harmful to the environment?

No, no toxic vapors, or waste water are created when the foams are expanded. Production of the molded parts is chlorine- and sulfur-free, the parts do not contain any plasticizers or heavy metals, and they do not pollute groundwater. In addition, Storopack uses an environmentally friendly production process involving water vapor.

By the way, technical molded parts play a part in conserving resources. For example, EPS and Neopor® consist of up to 98 percent air. The low weight of technical molded parts made of expanded foam means cars can be made lighter, thus reducing fuel consumption. When used for insulation, heating energy can be reduced by up to 70 percent and there is no need for cooling energy. Used molded parts can be fully recycled and can be reused for new products or protective packaging materials. As a final step, molded parts can be fully incinerated at cogeneration plants in an environmentally sustainable way, to generate energy.

Is protective packaging made from paper more environmentally friendly than plastic protective packaging?

Each material has its own manufacturing and disposal advantages and disadvantages. Paper has the advantage of being made out of the renewable resource wood. Meanwhile, PE film (polyethylene) production requires less energy and water than paper and can also be recycled with a lot less energy. All Storopack protective packaging can be reused and recycled.

Is the manufacture of protective packaging made from plastic harmful to the environment?

No. Neither unpleasant odors, nor toxic vapors and effluents are created during the manufacture and processing of the PE films used for our air cushions. Production of the PE films is chlorine- and sulfur-free, they do not contain any plasticizers or heavy metals, and they do not pollute groundwater.