The truth about Polystyrene

What is polystyrene, actually?

Polystyrene, abbreviated PS, is a polymer made from the aromatic monomer styrene which is a by-product of petroleum and a natural gas product.  The polystyrene polymer can be solid or foamed and is used to manufacture strong, flexible and lightweight packaging products.

Is polystyrene safe for use as food packaging?

Mpact Versapak maintains an internationally recognised BRC food safety rating, which obligates Mpact Versapak to manufacture polystyrene packaging that is safe for food contact applications.

Can polystyrene be recycled?

Yes, and it is being recycled in certain sectors.  You can clean your polystyrene containers in dishwashing water and place it in your recycling bag, with all your other recyclables.  Some products, which are made from recycled polystyrene include coat hangers, seedling trays, curtain rods, cornices and skirting, outdoor furniture, d├ęcor items such as picture frames and even lightweight concrete bricks and screeds.  The Polystyrene Association works closely with municipalities and companies to educate and encourage polystyrene recycling.  For more information, please visit the polystyrene association of SA.


What is expanded polystyrene, or EPS?

Expanded polystyrene is a rigid cellular plastic containing an expansion agent. When EPS is exposed to steam, it expands into a lightweight pre-foam.  The pre-foam, in a bead or granular form, undergoes steam treatment to allow it to fuse together, inside a mould, to give the material the required shape and size.

What is expanded polystyrene, EPS, used for? 


Expanded polystyrene is used in a number of applications, including food packaging, such as hot beverage cups, meat trays and as fast food containers.  It is also used as a protective material in items such as cycling helmets or as protective packaging for electronics and white goods.  It is widely found in the leisure industry to produce equipment such as windsurfing boards and even in the construction industry due to its insulation properties.  Many people are unaware of just how many polystyrene products they use on a daily basis!

How can I identify polystyrene or EPS?

Polystyrene or EPS is identified by the number six plastic symbol.  The marking on the packaging helps recyclers to identify what recycling processes the product requires. There are various recycling programs being set up across the country to encourage and promote the recycling of polystyrene in order to eliminate this material grade from going to landfills.


To enquire about our polystyrene or PET products, click here.

Food containers with full international food-grade

  • BRC Global Standard for Packaging & Packaging Materials
  • EU directive 10/2011 or FDA standards; certified for directfood applications
  • Migration limits EU directive 10/2011
  • Regulation (EC) no 2023/2008 good manufacturing practices; food materials
  • Endorsed by the Southern African Vinyls Association