The Plastics Blog
By Don Loepp | About The Plastics Blog

Don't call it Styrofoam ... let's call it Airpop

By Don Loepp | May 12, 2014 02:48 pm ET

Image By: Caroline SeidelLoepp

For years, we've lived with North American misuse of the word Styrofoam.

But instead of correcting people, maybe the real solution is to give them a better name for the product.

How about a cutesy name? The Europeans have come up with one: Airpop.

It's surprising, really, because the Europeans don't have the same polystyrene problem that's so commonplace in the United States and Canada. Over here, if you stop someone on the street and ask them the name of the plastic used to make expanded polystyrene coffee cups, egg cartons and foam packaging, I guarantee that more than 90 percent will call it 'styrofoam."

Even Plastics News has been forced to use the term incorrectly a couple of dozen times over the last 25 years. Most often, the problem is when an elected official gives us a quote using the wrong term. So we're stuck — either we the wrong word, or we don't use the quote.

It's frustrating.

The fact is, Styrofoam is a Dow Chemical Co. trademark, for extruded polystyrene insulation. Not drink cups.

Enter the Europeans with a possible solution.

At the Interpack trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, last week, a group called the European Manufacturers of Expanded Polystyrene (EuMEPS), helped launch a promotional campaign aimed at getting the public to start calling expanded PS "Airpop."

“But why give a new name to an internationally established material like EPS?” Eumeps asked. “Simply because the name Airpop immediately brings to mind what the material is made of — It’s air.

Image By: EUMEPS

"A lot of air. 98 percent air, to be precise. And just a tiny fraction is made of synthetic material, which expands to 50 times its own volume. To protect everything that needs to be protected: our children’s heads, TVs, fresh fish and thousands of other things."

The effort uses graphics and a creative concept developed by Ogilvy & Mather, a PR firm with an office in Frankfurt, Germany. The campaign promotes the Airpop name and the benefits of EPS.

Our colleagues at European Plastics News asked today, will Airpop catch on?

Let's put it this way — how many of you tell your buddies you want to play catch with a flying disc (instead of a Frisbee)? Or when you put together a grocery list, you include facial tissues and gelatin dessert?

And don't even get me started on those personal watercraft toys that people buzz around on. It seems like everyone has a name for those — and every one of them is a trademark for a specific brand!

You get the idea. Once a trademarked term is embraced by the public, it's pretty tough to swim against the tide. I expect Airpop to be a short-lived idea, but I hope I'm wrong.


Recent Blog Posts

Here's a peek behind our 2014 film & sheet ranking   September 15, 2014 1:22 pm ET
Weighing in on top plastics personalities   September 8, 2014 5:12 pm ET
How's the media treating plastics these days?   August 27, 2014 10:49 am ET
A peek behind our 2014 ranking of rotational molders   August 25, 2014 2:00 pm ET
More reshoring success stories with Wal-Mart connections   August 21, 2014 6:11 pm ET
Small country introducing plastic coins   August 20, 2014 10:48 am ET

Comments

Don't call it Styrofoam ... let's call it Airpop

By Don Loepp

Published: May 12, 2014 2:48 pm ET
Updated: May 12, 2014 3:19 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events