Polystyrene your supportive lifesaver

We bet you’ve forgotten about the crucial part polystyrene played in your life as a child (or an adult). In fact, we’d go as far to say that it was once your lifesaver and, despite it’s lightweight composite of around 98% air, it was your rock too.

Yes, we’re talking about the extraordinarily simple yet life-changing product that is the … swimming float. Tried and tested, the swimming float comes in many guises but all offer universal support for beginners, developing swimmers and competitive use.

Here at Vertapak, our main focus is the production of high-quality polystyrene packaging and insulation solutions but occasionally we thought it would be fun to review some of the other important and uses of versatile polystyrene.

Polystyrene’s part in developing your water skills

Think back to when you first entered a body of water. You may have received the supportive hands of your mother or father gently immersing you into the water of a swimming pool on holiday or the local leisure centre. Blowup armbands were probably your first recollection of a swimming aid but budding swimmers cannot get far with expandable multicoloured biceps. Soon, a polystyrene aid is called for.

Not only does this essential item help with confidence building in the water but it also encourages the swimmer to develop their technique.

Nowadays, swimming aids that help toddlers and small children to learn how to swim and feel confident when buoyant in the water, come in all shapes and sizes. Choose from ‘kick board’ shapes in the form of wild animal characters, numbers or letters to lean on or grasp with the hands to practice the leg kick or a ‘pull buoy’ held between the thighs.

Supportive polystyrene

The main purpose of a polystyrene float is to support your weight whilst on your front or back and therefore leaving your limbs free to practice movements and to aid muscle strength. Because of this, the size of the float is important, as it has to hold a person’s weight. A quick guide is to measure the float against your arm.

Tubular Woggles are polystyrene cylinders about 1.5 metres long which can be used to support swimmers whilst also keeping legs and arms free for full movement front or back.

Disc bands, sectioned padded jackets and baby grow costumes are alternative polystyrene float aids.

Polystyrene recycling

Polystyrene contains no harmful CFC gases and is easily recycled. If you have any old polystyrene materials, consider reusing them as storage or packing aids at home or in the workplace. It can even be broken down into beads and mixed with new polystyrene beads in order to mould it into new materials.

Contact us on 01384 457730 for more details about any aspect of polystyrene design, production and packaging solutions. 

How Humpy is Lumpy Mail?

What on earth is lumpy mail we hear you cry? And why should how humpy it is have anything to do with me?

Lumpy mail is often used to describe something of a shaped curiosity that travels by mail. Frequently used as a marketing ploy by organisations who send branded merchandise to prospects or as part of a customer loyalty scheme.

Eagerness to open the unknown

The one element that all lumpy mail is characterised by is its rather knobbly or uneven shape and hence the reference to it being humpy.

Lumpy mail poses a problem for the sender in terms of how best to package the novelty item so that it doesn’t get damaged. Their nature sets them aside from a standard piece of mail in an envelope or a brightly printed postcard. Inquisitiveness will get the better of anyone, despite what some may argue, so lumpy mail always gets opened. The last thing any receiver wants to experience is the unveiling of a squashed or smashed trinket. Deflated disappointment will be felt and potential resentment towards the sender.

Vertapak packaging to the rescue

Some lumpy mail products could take the form of a less than uniquely branded gift such as a stress ball, mug or phone accessory. These items will already have specific packaging and protection in the form of polystyrene sheets or beads.

But if you have something truly special and extra lumpy then you may require tailored packaging to ensure safe arrival to a zealous beneficiary.

Polystyrene is lightweight and versatile. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) can be moulded to exact requirements to snugly secure even the humpiest of lumpy mail.

Through scientific calculation

It’s not rocket science but the process is rather ingenious. Using scanned images or product drawings, 3D polystyrene shapes can be designed using precise dimensions to contour any object.

The result is a perfectly formed protective layer or impact-absorbing cushion that is both lightweight and robust.

So when you next consider a marketing campaign or new product development that has the characteristic of lumpy mail – complete with hump or nodule – get in touch and we’ll develop a tailored packaging material to ensure the safe passage of your item.

Contact us on 01384 457730 for more details.

Polystyrene – an uncommon green-fingered ally

It’s probably safe to say that when you hear the word ‘polystyrene’ the last picture you imagine would be one of green fingers and anything to do with nature.

Polystyrene is not a material necessarily linked with the environment or the garden and when you think about its benefits you’d be more inclined to favour its protective qualities in providing a cushion for your latest Amazon purchase.


Polystyrene – your plants’ next best friend

We kid you not. Polystyrene is actually a cost effective alternative to pebbles and gravel for plant pot drainage.

We wouldn’t recommend using it when growing potted peppers or mint, or anything edible for that matter, just in case.

Before you pot a plant for the first time or when repotting, place a layer of small polystyrene chunks at the bottom of the pot, fill with soil and plant your flora as normal. Be careful not to use too much because there still needs to be some level of equilibrium – a top-heavy plant is no good to anyone when it starts to lean.

This method is particularly useful if your plants are large or the pots are bulky because the difference in weight between pebbles and polystyrene is actually quite a lot. Think of your back and practice positive weight-lifting techniques.

A hidden friend in the flowerbed

Moulded polystyrene trays or deep food packaging containers can be repurposed for DIY raised flowerbeds in your back garden.

Depending on the size of the trays or where you want your flowers to bloom you may need to devise some way of concealing the colour of the polystyrene by painting or covering it in some way. Carefully choosing a tumbling variety of flower will allow them to grow and cascade over the edges of the polystyrene.

Some trays will come prepared with their own ‘mini drainage’ system in the form of manufactured precision holes, especially if its original purpose was to package something that needed aerating. Failing that, use a small sharp object to prick a few holes at the bottom.

More surprising uses of polystyrene

We hope this short article has made for an interesting five-minute read. Please stay tuned for more surprising uses of polystyrene over the next few weeks.

5 ways to reuse polystyrene

polystyrene packagingPolystyrene sometimes gets a bad press because it is bulky and it cannot be easily recycled without using some solvents. However, despite the negative characteristics, polystyrene waste can also be very useful in people’s homes.

The following are the top five ways in which you can reuse polystyrene.

  1. Use the polystyrene to make home-made superglue. Not many people know that they can recycle the polystyrene to make their own superglue. You can do so by mixing a large amount of packed peanuts with d-Limonene, which is orange rind oil. The oil ingredients will slowly break down and dissolve the polystyrene, making it sticky. Then you can use it as nice permanent glue.
  2. Use it for drainage in the base of your plant pots. Of course, you should not use it for pots where you grow edible fruits or veg, but it works great as replacement for gravel or pebbles in your plant pots. Line the base of the plant pot with a thin layer of polystyrene chunks and bed your plants as usual. Using polystyrene as drainage is great if you plan to regularly move your plants because it is a much lighter material.
  3. Polystyrene can also be used as an insulator. However, this should be done with extreme caution because the material is flammable if it is not treated with flame retardant.
  4. Polystyrene materials can be used for cushioning different delicate things during a house move or for shipping fragile materials.
  5. Use the polystyrene for your patio. Larger polystyrene pieces like those obtained from big box electronic appliances or from refrigerators can serve as great raised beds for your garden. Make some tiny holes with a knife in the polystyrene pieces, and they can serve as drainage holes for different purposes in your garden.

The economic role of packaging in the service industry

Every person in the world today is affected by some form of packaging. Many people are not aware of the economic role and the value it has in the service industry, simply because they are not involved in the industry or they do not pay attention to the role the packaging has in getting the final product to them. However, without packaging, the country`s Gross Domestic Product would suffer.

Polystyrene Packaging

This is because of the fact that products cannot be shipped from the producer to the retailer and ultimately to the consumer, without proper packaging. Packaging must be designed by using specific materials, made of different sizes and shapes, and packaging materials also must be very strong to resist shocks and hazards when the product is transferred.

Packaging serves as a protection for the product, not only from transport and physical damages, but also from bacterial and microbial damages and climatic issues, like cold, moisture, heat, frost, etc. In this regard, especially relating to food products, packaging greatly reduces the waste of food. The packaging also serves as a way for identification, tracking and tracing of the product. Consumers today are well aware of the shelf life of the products and the product tractability to the manufacturer, which enables a quick product recall in case if the integrity of the product has been affected in a negative way.

Although packaging only contributes a small portion of the country`s gross domestic product and consequently of that – a small portion of waste, the packaging industry still impacts the present and the future of the planet and it has a big economic role to play. Humanity is well aware that the planet`s resources are greatly limited, so every effort counts in conserving our valuable resources.

Today, many packaging companies across the world are affiliated with the World Packaging Organisation in order to increase the economic benefits for the countries. Packaging industries are also networked through other global organisations and all work towards the same goal – to reduce, recycle, recover, and renew the packaging materials so the world economies all benefit.

At Vertapak we play our part in keeping packaging environmentally-friendly where we can and we are totally committed to the benefits of recycling.

Steps to Recycling Packing Peanuts

polystyrene packagingPink and white packing peanuts are made of polystyrene. This is a very durable material that will take centuries to decompose naturally. So, if they are not treated in the right way, packing peanuts can become a serious threat to the environment. Fortunately, there is a way to recycle or reuse packing peanuts effectively and also, to be a bit creative with them:

  1. Companies can use biodegradable packing peanuts. You can easily recognize these packing peanuts because they come in green colour and they are made from environmentally-friendly materials.
  2. It is also a good idea to reuse the packing peanuts. Simply store them in a plastic bag and use them whenever you are mailing a package.
  3. Ask businesses whether they need packing peanuts. Many businesses that ship products would like to take packing peanuts.
  4. Replace gravel in planters with packing peanuts made of polystyrene. This will give you great drainage and make the planters much easier to move and lift.
  5. Make the perfect pillow for your dog/pet. This will be a great item for any pet owner. Take a pillowcase with a zipper and stuff it with these packing peanuts. This is the perfect, comfy cushion for the pet. On top of that, these packing peanuts provide great air flow.
  6. Use packing peanuts to refill your bean bag chairs.
  7. Use them for a child’s Halloween costume. It is very easy to sew these packing peanuts and use them to create effects on your costume like toned muscles or fat bellies. You can have lots of fun with your kids creating something like this.


We hope we’ve given you some ideas!


What exactly are Polystyrene Sheets?

Polystyrene sheets are relatively thin layers of material based on polystyrene foam. In many cases, people call these sheets Styrofoam sheets, which are actually one of the most popular products based on this material. The foam is made of hydrocarbon molecules that come from petroleum. They are inserted with the help of special air pressure technique and carefully molded into sheets. The sheets have the shape and size of drywall or plywood. Polystyrene sheets deliver great insulating effects. On top of that, they also provide a good level of structural strength which makes them suitable for different applications.

There are two varieties (and many sub-varieties) of polystyrene sheets. The main difference is the process of manufacturing. First of all, there are extruded polystyrene sheets which are based on polystyrene beads. These beads are melted and inserted through a mold or metal die. The sheets are known for their dense and closed-cell structure. They are also stronger, more durable and stiffer compared to other kinds of polystyrene sheets.

The second type is expanded polystyrene sheets. These are based on polystyrene beads with inserted air and tightly pressed in forms or molds. The sheets construction is less dense compared to extruded polystyrene sheets. This means that they are not as good as XPS for structural application.

Polystyrene sheets are mostly used for building insulation. They come in the form of panels that are installed under roofing and wall cavities or sidings. The main objective is to improve thermal resistance between interior and exterior surfaces. In some cases, polystyrene sheets are used in specific building materials like insulated concrete forms and structurally insulated panels. These sheets are often used to provide protection of packages and goods during the process of shipping and to line freezers and coolers. They can also be used for creating art and as part of crafts projects.

One of the key benefits of polystyrene sheets is that they have great insulating properties, they are easy to install, inexpensive, durable and lightweight.

For more advice, please get in touch.

How to pack oversized items for shipping

According to many sellers, this is one of the most difficult issues to solve when you are selling large items. If the item you are selling doesn’t fit in a regular or even a specially designed oversized box, you should not be dismayed because there is always an alternative solution. Here are a few tips:

Protective Packaging

Firstly, start by selecting a suitable space where you can pack items. Regardless of the size and shape of the item, you should focus on creating a square box around the item. The final result will be a box that looks like a gigantic shoe box!

Measure the item and add four inches to H, W and L. The best idea is to place the item in a way in which the bottom of the item is facing the top of the box. To put it simply, keep the item upside down. After that, use Styrofoam sheets and cut these sheets so they can fill the belly of this item. Next, tape everything together and you should put a Styrofoam box around the item’s belly. Don’t tape them to the item because you could damage the finish.

After that, check whether there are gaps between the item. Make sure that the surface is flat on the bottom. If you notice voids, fill them with Styrofoam. Next, take the sheets made of Styrofoam and cut them carefully, so they can fit over the topside (the bottom). Don’t worry if the sheeting comes with gaps. The only thing that you should take care of is the extra hanging over the edges. If you leave this in place you will pay more for the shipping.

Once you are done, perform all these activities but this time with corrugated sheets. Avoid using seams at corners because the box can become unstable. Finally, focus on creating durable bottom and top lids. To reiterate, in the end, you should get a huge box that looks like a shoe box.

We hope this helps!

The advantages of polystyrene insulation

Home construction includes many different activities and installation of the right kind of insulation is one of them. In recent times, polystyrene insulation has become one of the most popular types of insulation. This is a material that doesn’t weigh too much and on top of that, it’s very easy to install polystyrene which is not the case with fiberglass. Furthermore, polystyrene insulation can be cut easily and fit in ceilings and walls. Even though its insulation properties are weaker when compared to fiberglass, the fact is that polystyrene insulation is very cheap.

Polyethylene Sheets Packaging

Insulation brings two very important things when it is installed in the right way – it keeps the heat inside the building during the winter period and vice versa – it keeps it away in summer. Fiberglass insulation is probably the most popular form of insulation, but polystyrene insulation has proven to be more beneficial. Also known as blue or pink board Styrofoam, polystyrene insulation is available in the form of relatively large square sheets that are cut with a knife for better separation.

This simple separating construction is one of the things that make polystyrene insulation efficient because it is much simpler to install these squares than fiberglass insulation. At the same time, the specific shape keeps the squares from falling and sagging.  To keep moisture away, the foam board comes with a finish that is water resistant. This means that if there is moisture inside the wall it will stay there for a long time because there is no way for this water to be vented.

Used frequently for insulating commercial and domestic properties, polystyrene insulation improves a building’s energy efficiency and studies have shown that it can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to this, polystyrene insulation is 100% recyclable and its mould- resistant properties help to improve indoor environmental quality. It is also flame retardant with no dangerous CFCs or HCFCs being a problem.

For more advice about polystyrene insulation, please contact us now.


Your essential guide to recycling polystyrene

Did you know that every year, large amounts of polystyrene (hundreds of tons) are recycled all over the United Kingdom? This practice is followed by every responsible business even though local authorities in the UK are still not providing polystyrene recycling gathering points. Polystyrene is a specific material and represents an individual, inert polymer. This means that it is very easy to manage polystyrene when it comes to gathering, processing and finally, recycling.

Polystyrene Recycling

3-R rule

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are the three things that are crucial for reducing and processing any waste and polystyrene is no exception. Today, almost every manufacturer of polystyrene products is trying to use as little as material possible to provide the required performance. In addition, many of them are buying energy efficient machines and equipment and try to make their manufacturing process as sustainable as possible. There are many companies that are following the ISO 14001 standard too.

Besides reducing the amount of polystyrene, we can also reuse it which is a better option than recycling. So, any piece of polystyrene which was broken during the process of production are broken into even smaller pieces until the manufacturer gets beads and these can be put back into new products. Therefore, there is no waste that comes from the process of manufacturing polystyrene products. Of course, these pieces are completely clean and free of HBCD. They are usually used in insulation boards and packaging products.

Finally, the last option from the three R rule is recycling. Many people don’t know that every product based on polystyrene is completely recyclable. This means that anything from fish boxes to garden seed trays can be recycled. Of course, there are many professional recyclers who are interested in used polystyrene for recycling. The best thing is that most of them will also come to your place and collect the polystyrene for free.

The polystyrene that is used needs to be compacted because this is the only way to reduce its original size. By getting rid of the air between the materials, the size can be reduced by up to 85%. This compacted polystyrene comes in the form of relatively small blocks of hard material which is easy to transport.

For all your polystyrene packaging needs, please contact us now.