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TempAid Announces Another Industry First: Biodegradable Coolers Qualified for Cold Chain Shipping

Company makes bold move changing all EPS coolers to biodegradable EPS* and tested for vaccine, pharmaceutical, and food shipments

TempAid™ today announced a new, innovative packaging line, called the EarthWise™ Biodegradable EPS, that is 92% biodegradable in active landfills [Learn More]. The product is one of the first to be both biodegradable and qualified, meeting vaccine manufacturers’ strict temperature hold-time requirements.

In a bold move, the company has also converted all existing packaging systems from standard EPS to biodegradable EPS—a significant step in creating the first entirely sustainable cold chain packaging manufacturer.

According to the EPA, containers, and packaging make up a significant percentage of municipal solid waste, amounting to 82.2 million tons of generation in 2018. Additionally, the combustion of containers and packaging was 7.4 million tons, and landfills received 30.5 million tons (20.9 percent of total landfilling) in 2018.

While many companies are searching for solutions, none have found a way to produce and qualify a biodegradable cooler that leaves behind almost no trace of the original product and/or does not release dangerous substances into the environment.

Standard EPS coolers are recyclable and can be used to create various new products. However, there are high costs connected with transporting the used containers due to their high volume-to-weight ratio. The majority of discarded plastics end up in biologically active landfills.

The no-compromise way to sustainable cold chain packaging

The new EarthWise Biodegradable Coolers are infused with a unique resin additive that helps break down the cooler into inert humus, carbon dioxide, and methane. Certain conditions are required for the product to degrade over this period, and a wet microbe-rich environment, like those found in most active landfills, is all that is needed. The process is tested in sample items, including the Bio EPS coolers, to biodegrade 92% over four years without leaving behind microplastics typically found in an oxo-biodegradable product.

The resin will not biodegrade under normal shipping and storage conditions and will not change the shelf life or storage requirements.

The product is also recyclable using standard polystyrene recycling methods (where available) and meets the international guidelines for direct food contact.

EPS performance with biodegradable properties

Long the affordable standard for protective and insulative packaging, EPS is known for its low cost, superior insulation, light weight, leak and moisture resistance.

Testing of sample items was conducted in TempAid™ Labs, with the resign supplier, and with third-party laboratories, under conditions that simulate wetter and biologically active landfills, and showed biodegradation of 91.9% of the product over four years. This is long after standard EPS containers are generally used in distribution.

Internal qualification testing with the cooler and the company’s EarthWise™ drain-friendly gel packs validated the package for a broad performance temperature range ( -20oC to 190oC).

“While no solution on the market is perfect, we have made it our goal to create cold chain packaging solutions that are as sustainable as possible using the latest technology. The EPS biodegradable is another step in that direction, said Ryan Sanders, President of Rapid Aid’s TempAid division. “We are currently shipping the products to our customer base where they find it a welcome alternative for the meal kit delivery, life sciences, and pharmaceutical markets.”

Biodegradable Cooler Specifications

As a qualified solution, two options are available today in volume, either +5°C or -21°C, to meet the needs of today’s vaccine requirements beyond the Covid vaccine. The solution is laboratory tested for up to 48 hours using the ISTA Procedure 7D Summer Profile to maintain between either +2°C to +8°C or -25°C to -15°C (depending on the option required). It is also tested to ISTA Procedure 3A Standards for Packaged Products for Parcel Delivery and Shipment. ISTA 3A is a physical test for shock and vibration to ensure the products don’t get damaged in transport.

As a stand-alone cooler, the product is available now in over 25 sizes, with custom sizes available for volume orders. Contact us for a list of sizes available, lab testing results, or MSDS documentation. To learn more, go to https://www.tempaid.net/qualified-packaging/biodegradable-eps-shipper/.


[1] *Biodegradability testing was conducted with sample items using the resign under conditions simulating both wet and biologically-active landfills using the ASTM D5511 test. The extent of degradation and stated rate do not mean the product will continue to decompose. The data stated above has been provided in good faith and believed to be reliable. It does not constitute a part of our terms and conditions of sale unless specifically incorporated in our Order Acknowledgment. Visit here for more information or to request test results and detailed specifications.

[2] https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/containers-and-packaging-product-specific-data

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