Posted by: Phil Plotts

One of the problems many people have when considering a foam scrap compactor or densifier is how much waste they have. Foam packaging blocks and colored styrofoam sheets are very lightweight and can be very bulky. With these materials, what appears to be an immense quantity isn't a substantial amount at all. Typical polystyrene foam packaging and insulation is usually in the density range of 1 to 2 pounds per cubic foot.  What this means is if you have a 12-inch x 12-inch x 12-inch cube of solid foam, it would weigh between 1 and 2 pounds. Since most packaging foam is not used in a solid block form but is molded into relatively thin designs to protect products, several cubic feet of polystyrene or polyethylene packaging foam may be required to equal a pound of foam.


Guidelines for Estimating the Actual Amount of EPS or EPE You Have

To give you a better idea of how much packaging foam you might have on your hands, here are a few guidelines for estimating the weight of uncompressed EPS or EPE foam pieces (this excludes stacked sheet foam and block foam).

  1. A 53-foot trailer load will weigh 1500 to 2000 pounds.
  2. A 20-yard roll-off dumpster containing only EPS foam will hold 200 to 300 pounds of EPS.
  3. A 12-foot square mound of foam packaging piled 8-feet high will weigh about 100 to 150 pounds

Not All Foam Scrap Is the Same

If you've been working with foam packaging for a while now, you'll know there' a wide variety of them out there. If you're new to working with packaging foam, keep in mind that all of it isn't the same.

Styrofoam is a registered trademark for the Dow Chemical brand of extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). It tends to come in the form of blue-colored styrofoam sheets.

Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a bead type foam that's molded into shapes, blocks, and sheets.  It's typically white but can be dyed any color. It's also made up of about 95% air. EPS is frequently but erroneously referred to as Styrofoam. But it is very versatile and has been used in the packaging, insulative and construction industries for decades.


Need Help Managing the Scrap Foam That Your Company Produces? Contact Foam Equipment & Consulting Co

Are you trying to get your weekly or monthly EPS waste volume under control? We're always happy to give you a hand. Contact us today to learn more about our recycling equipment like Heger compactors for foam scrap and to discover the right solution for your company's goals.