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Our Approach

What we are doing

our strategy starts by working close with:

  Waste Management authorities


  Governmental bodies responsible for marine environment management;

  Priority industries, products and applications: fishing (fisheries, aquaculture, sea-food), food goods industry distribution, supermarket chains, e. g. vegetables, fish, meat, fruit) consumer goods (appliances), outdoor festivals and street food vending, marine pontoons and other floating structures made primarily of EPS;

  Waste Management authorities;

  Circular economy modelling I&D specialists;


  EPS means Expanded Polystyrene and was invented in 1944. This petrochemical plastic is obtained from crystal polystyrene or Crystal PS and it’s composed of 98% of air. XPS means extruded polystyrene. It is also an expanded or foamed plastic made of polystyrene.

  We can identify EPS and XPS products in many things we use in our daily lives, such as cups, lids, and food containers. Many of these are single-use plastics (designed to be used only once). But they can also be hidden inside applications from bike helmets to surf boards.

  Foamed polystyrene plastics have many different uses. EPS is often used to insulate living areas such as roofs, walls or floors. In the food packaging sector, EPS and XPS are used to keep a product at the right temperature. They are used in the production of fish crates and meat trays, for instance. EPS is also used in industrial packaging to protect several products, mainly home appliances.

  Foamed polystyrene has its advantages: it’s lightweight, inexpensive, mouldable and has great insulating properties (thermal, shock absorbent and holds liquids).

  But it is a serious marine litter problem. In the oceans, it breaks down into tiny fragments. These are eaten by plankton, fish and seabirds and as such enter the food chain. Ultimately, it can threaten us.

  Foamed polystyrene is very durable, so it accumulates in nature, damaging ecosystems we rely on. Also, it is absorbent, which means it acts like pollutant sponges. And being lightweight, it gets blown by the wind.

  Foamed polystyrene represents a paradox. It is relatively considered in the instructions of selective sorting because it represents only a weak mass per inhabitant (500g/inhabitant/year), but it´s very low density makes it the most produced plastic in terms of volume in 2016.


What is the Wise approach to do that?

We are setting up Dialogue Labs in each partner region to engage stakeholders and seek their active involvement to find solutions from the root level.
At the same time, our scientists and experts are identifying which EPS products are more likely to reach the marine environment and impact on its ecosystems and what are the main barriers, the policy options and the opportunities.
In our Living Labs of Eco-innovation (LLEco), in each partner region, we will be working to find alternative materials (biodegradable ones or products which are less likely to leak to the ocean) and practical options to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover EPS and XPS products (addressing the entire life-cycle of EPS and XPS  products). And, more importantly, promoting real-life tests with target industries in order to know what really works.
All that information is going to be accessible to you at our Knowledge Hub.
Your contributions and comments are welcome and truly appreciated in our interactive platform in the OceanWise website.
By the end of OceanWise we will develop a catalogue of priority EPS and XPS products and applications and their alternatives. This document, which will include recommendations for the future management/reduction of leakage of EPS and XPS, will be presented to OSPAR and will harmonise project outcomes with: MSFD Descriptor 10 marine litter requirements, the European Plastics Strategy and the Circular Economy principles.


our goals are to:

Identify priority EPS and XPS foam products and applications

Propose and test plausible options

Engage producers and designers’ communities

Develop circular economy-oriented tools for managers, planners and other stakeholders

Accordingly, propose updates to public policies and establish new best practices for the Industry.

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© 2019 OceanWise project

The OceanWise project is co-financed by
the European Regional Development Fund
through the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme