EPS Plastic Foam Bans and The Cold Chain

As of January 1st, 2022, New York became the latest state on a growing list of those that have passed legislation banning the distribution and sale of polystyrene foam also known as EPS, or more commonly, Styrofoam.

Strong insulating capabilities and shock absorbing qualities are why EPS has been used so extensively in the food and beverage industry – coffee, takeout, school lunches. These reasons are also why the material is commonly used to protect temperature-sensitive medications such as vaccines during transport to care settings and patient homes. From a financial cost perspective, plastic foam is typically more affordable than other insulating material.

So, why are more and more states and companies banning it?

The reason is growing concern over the future of our planet. There are several environmental problems related to over usage of EPS since it was introduced in the 1960s:

  • Polystyrene contains toxic substances including suspected carcinogens and hazardous
  • The material is lightweight and flaky, easily spreading into nature
  • EPS cannot be recycled so it ends up in landfills where it expands over time, taking up more and more space
  • EPS takes 500 years to breakdown during which time it can leach into soil and water

Given these dangers of plastic foam, it is not surprising New York has joined other states including Maine and Maryland in banning this material. Fortunately for drug manufacturers and distributors accustomed to EPS foam for cold chain products, there are alternatives such as aerogel that is lightweight and offers superior insulating capability. Though more costly than EPS, when eco-friendly thermal packaging is coupled with a reuse program, sustainability savings multiply over each journey of the package as cost goes down over every deployment.

As more pharma companies commit to eco-friendly business practices and seek to reduce their carbon footprints, the cold chain is a logical place to start. To estimate the financial benefit of converting to a sustainable reuse model in 2022, AeroSafe Global offers a simple calculator. Our team would be happy to walk through what this conversion might look like in terms of investment and benefits for your breakthrough therapy.

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