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The tragic fire catastrophe of the Grenfell Tower in London directed the public attention towards building envelopes. The discussion concerning the safety of facades and insulation material is a challenge especially for manufacturers of expanded polystyrene (EPS), according to market research company Ceresana.

"Expandable polystyrene is mainly used by the construction industry for thermal or sound insulation," said Ceresana CEO Oliver Kutsch. Worldwide, about 6.7 million tons of EPS were consumed in 2016.

EPS is also used for helmets and life jackets, beverage cups, packaging, casting molds, and numerous other products – however, construction products currently account for almost 59% of the EPS market.

In the past years, this sector profited from efforts concerning climate protection and public support measures to increase energy efficiency especially in Europe, the report said. All around the world EPS-based products are used in the construction of new residential buildings and in the refurbishment of old buildings.

Besides fire safety, questions arise regarding the use of possibly unhealthy additives and the environmentally friendly disposal of the practical material after use. For example, glass and stone wool but also insulation material based on renewable resources competes with EPS.

According to Ceresana's study, Asia Pacific accounted for 56% of the global demand in 2016. Due to above-average growth rates, the company expects demand for EPS in this region to increase to over 5 million tons.

The development of the Chinese construction sector slowed down considerably, however, demand for packaging is constant. Packaging, e.g. for transportation of fresh fish or electronic devices, accounted for more than one third of EPS demand worldwide.

In Asia Pacific and American countries in particular, EPS products are accounting for a significant share of total demand. Per capita consumption of packaging and other EPS products is still rising especially in emerging and developing countries.

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