Major brands such as Mcdonalds and Target are looking to other alternatives to EPS packaging not because it is not effective as a cost effective packaging material, but because of concerns related to the frustrations of customers in trying to recycle it, its implications for ocean plastic and the economics of recycling for businesses such as Target. As a company official explained to Packaging Digest:
It’s also a big issue in our distribution centers because a lot of product that gets sent to stores is taken out of the box and hung, like a mirror or a frame. But then the polystyrene has got to go back to the distribution centers and there’s a lot more than you would imagine. It’s just enough to be a problem but not enough to invest in densifiers.
The issue remains complicated. Considerations range from the sustainability impact of potentially more product damage and its related carbon footprint and economic cost on one side of the debate if EPS packaging is not used, to the sustainability dilemma of ocean plastic and solid waste generation resulting from using EPS, on the other.