Small Cardboard Boxes | Polystyrene

Polystyrene

Polystyrene (acronym is PS), chemical sign is (C8H8)n, is a polymerized styrene, transparent thermoplastic vinyl polymer massively popular (together with polyethylene) in the packaging industry for small and large cardboard boxes used as foam and hard plastic. Often utilized as load wrapping and insulation allowing for a snug fit when protecting merchandise while in transport. Its SPI (Society of Plastics Industry) code is 6 and could normally be found on the bottom of the items made of polystyrene. Its thermoplastic nature generally suggests that it is solid and stable at room temperature and when heated it could be bent into shape or blow molded even injected up to product specifications, legal requirements etc. It is chemically inert which makes it suitable in the production of containers for other chemicals, solvents etc., it can even be used in some polymer-bonded explosives such as napalm.

The year 1836 is considered polystyrene’s inception. A German pharmacist isolated the substance from natural resin and like in most such great discoveries, he did not know what he had come upon. A number of other scientists then worked on to further develop all features which later led to its commercial significance. The German chemical company BASF has been involved in the polystyrene project all along also.

Polystyrene is recognized easy as Styrofoam. It has wide usage in construction as insulation material and weather/sound proofing also packaging material/peanuts, single-use plates, disposable cups/cutlery, almost any type of plastic casing, internal light-weight fill for structures, concrete isolation etc. Polystyrene can be seen as general purpose polystyrene (GPPS), high-impact (HIPS), expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene foam (XPS).

It is commercially manufactured by the chemical industry from petroleum products. Challenges here could be presented by the abundance and low cost of virgin raw materials which makes recycling optional in certain cases and in many areas. Polystyrene is for the most part not recycled – part of the reason is that it is light and insufficient for scrap weight. Certain types such as EPS can be re-manufactured with success. The detrimental effects of low recycling can often be seen around beaches, shores, rest areas etc. In addition, when Polystyrene comes in contact with sea water it could form cancerous compounds and affect sea life. One solution is to incinerate it in new modern facilities where the resulting damage is quite acceptable compared to other methods such as burial. Burial results in low disposal efficiency since the polystyrene is practically indestructible by time. Reducing and finding alternatives might be the only two reasonable methods to handle polystyrene waste. Hopefully the price of oil would soon make it prohibitive to use under its current consumption rates.

Polystyrene

Polystyrene container for eggs

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