Lifecycle analysis (LCA) is a process by which a product is examined, cradle-to-grave, for its environmental impact.
When it comes to XPS insulation products, LCA shows that XPS stacks up as sustainable product.
- The use of XPS—especially in insulating sheathing—reduces the amount of energy (gas, oil or electric) required to maintain comfortable living spaces, which in turn has direct impact on total energy use and reduces our consumption of natural resources.
- Notably, the thermal insulating properties of XPS provide both energy-efficiency and environmental benefits. This is because far more energy is saved over time than is consumed by manufacturing XPS insulation. XPS reduces greenhouse gases by minimizing the effects from harmful air emissions that result from the production and / or consumption of energy.
- XPS is manufactured from polystyrene resin, which is a thermoplastic material. This means that it can be melted and re-inserted into the manufacturing process to produce new XPS insulation. In fact, XPS manufacturing plants create virtually no ‘scrap’ or waste material. This is because essentially 100 percent of industrial waste XPS boards are recovered, ground-up, re-pelletized back into the polystyrene resin material, and reused in the XPS manufacturing process.
- In addition, post-consumer XPS insulation boards can be reused in many commercial applications—especially re-roofing. For more information on re-roofing, click here.
(It should be noted that while post-consumer recycled polystyrene can be used in the XPS manufacturing process, the collection infrastructure for such recycling efforts in the U.S. currently does not exist to support it. Past initiatives made by the XPS industry to collect polystyrene food trays and recycle them into post-consumer XPS insulation boards were not successful because they were not economically-feasible, but such recycling programs could be developed in the future.)
For more information about XPS foam and LCA, we invite you to explore the links below:
Insulating Sheathing Analysis (pdf)
Energy and Environmental Benefits (pdf)
Societal and Environmental Benefits of XPS (pdf)
Carbon Dioxide Emissions and XPS Insulation (pdf)