What Is Styrofoam?


Styrofoam™ Is Not A Cup Nor A Container

Here’s a party trick you can try on your friends. Tell them there is no such thing as a “Styrofoam” cup and bet them $20 they can’t prove you wrong. Take it from us, the manufacturers of DuPont™ Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation: You’ll win every time.

It doesn’t matter how many single-use coffee cups, fast food containers, or appliance packages your friends scrounge up. None of these products are made of Styrofoam™.  Almost every time you see polystyrene foam products mentioned in the media, you see the word “Styrofoam” used to describe them - even though the foams used to make these products are not Styrofoam™. Not one single-use foam packaging product is made from our material.  In fact, Styrofoam™ is the brand name of a high-performance insulation board manufactured by DuPont™.

Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation, commonly known in the construction industry as extruded polystyrene or XPS, is used to provide long-term thermal protection for buildings.  This exceptional water-resistant board also enhances energy efficiency, allowing building and home owners to enjoy a more comfortable indoor environment – warmer or cooler – in turn contributing to lower energy bills for occupants.

Journalists and broadcasters who make this mistake will often excuse it as an example of a “genericized trademark.” This phrase refers to brand names that become so successful that people start using that brand name to refer to the entire class of products to which it belongs. Certain brands of photocopiers, tissues, and over-the-counter pain relievers are some of the most frequently cited examples of this phenomenon.

But the technology used to make foam cups, containers and packaging is expanded polystyrene, or EPS – a different technology than used to make Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation.  Another important distinction is that Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation is never intended for one-time use applications like EPS.  Rather, it is used for green- and low-energy buildings that stand for decades. Over its life cycle it can help save more than 30 times the embodied energy consumed!

Here are some addition fun facts to help set the record straight:

  • DuPont™ Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation is a registered trademark of DuPont de Nemours, Inc. (“DuPont”) and is used as rigid foam insulation in above and below grade applications, structural insulated sheathing, motorhomes, caravans and insulated trucks, in highways, tunnels and insulation pipes and even in the floral and craft market.  

  • There isn't a cup, food container, cooler or packaging material in the world made from Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation. Disposable foam cups, containers and packaging materials are made from a distinct material called expanded polystyrene (EPS). This material does not have the insulation value, compressive strength or moisture-resistant properties of Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation.

  • Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation products are used in a variety of construction applications, including basement insulation, crawl spaces, rim joists, steel stud and masonry wall construction.  They provide benefits to building structures such as thermal protection, water resistance, drainage assistance, air infiltration reduction, moisture wicking and more.

  • How do you know when you’re looking at genuine Styrofoam™ Brand Insulation? Simply look for the Styrofoam™ trademark! DuPont holds more than 150 trademark registrations worldwide for the Styrofoam™ brand.