Styrofoam vs. Thermocol

What's the Difference?

Styrofoam and Thermocol are both types of expanded polystyrene foam, commonly used for insulation and packaging purposes. However, there are some differences between the two. Styrofoam is a brand name for extruded polystyrene foam, known for its high density and strength. It is often used in construction and as a protective material for fragile items. On the other hand, Thermocol is a generic term used in India and other countries for expanded polystyrene foam. It is typically lighter and less dense than Styrofoam, making it more suitable for packaging and disposable food containers. Overall, both materials have their own unique properties and applications, but they share the common characteristic of being lightweight and excellent insulators.


Photo by Brian Marco on Unsplash
Common NameStyrofoamThermocol
Insulation PropertiesExcellentExcellent
UsagePackaging, insulation, disposable containersPackaging, insulation, disposable containers
Environmental ImpactNon-biodegradable, can release harmful chemicalsNon-biodegradable, can release harmful chemicals
RecyclabilityDifficult to recycle, limited recycling optionsDifficult to recycle, limited recycling options
CostRelatively lowRelatively low
Photo by Vishnu Prasad on Unsplash

Further Detail


Styrofoam and Thermocol are two commonly used materials in various industries and applications. While they may appear similar, there are distinct differences in their attributes and properties. In this article, we will explore and compare the characteristics of Styrofoam and Thermocol, shedding light on their composition, insulation properties, environmental impact, and potential applications.


Styrofoam, also known as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), is a lightweight material composed of 95% air and 5% polystyrene. It is manufactured by expanding polystyrene beads with the help of steam, resulting in a rigid foam structure. On the other hand, Thermocol, also known as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), is a similar material composed of 98% air and 2% polystyrene. It is produced by expanding polystyrene beads using a blowing agent, creating a foam structure with closed cells.

Both Styrofoam and Thermocol have a cellular structure, but the difference in their composition leads to variations in their physical properties and performance.

Insulation Properties

One of the primary reasons for the widespread use of Styrofoam and Thermocol is their excellent insulation properties. Both materials have low thermal conductivity, which means they are effective in preventing heat transfer. This property makes them ideal for insulation applications in the construction industry, packaging, and even in the food and beverage industry.

Styrofoam, due to its lower density and higher air content, offers slightly better insulation properties compared to Thermocol. It provides superior thermal resistance, making it a preferred choice for applications where enhanced insulation is required.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to the environmental impact, both Styrofoam and Thermocol have faced criticism due to their non-biodegradable nature. However, it is important to note that Styrofoam is often considered more harmful to the environment than Thermocol.

Styrofoam takes hundreds of years to decompose, and its production involves the use of petroleum-based materials. Additionally, it is not easily recyclable, leading to significant waste accumulation in landfills and posing a threat to wildlife and ecosystems.

On the other hand, Thermocol is relatively more environmentally friendly. It can be recycled and reused, reducing its impact on the environment. Many recycling facilities accept Thermocol, and it can be transformed into new products or used as a raw material in other industries.

However, it is crucial to note that proper recycling infrastructure and awareness are necessary to ensure the effective recycling of Thermocol and minimize its environmental impact.

Potential Applications

Styrofoam and Thermocol find extensive use in various industries and applications due to their unique attributes. Let's explore some of their potential applications:

Styrofoam Applications

  • Insulation in buildings and construction
  • Protective packaging for fragile items
  • Disposable food and beverage containers
  • Arts and crafts projects
  • Floatation devices and buoys

Thermocol Applications

  • Insulation in walls, roofs, and floors
  • Protective packaging for electronics and appliances
  • Thermal containers for transporting temperature-sensitive goods
  • Decorative items and props
  • Model making and prototyping

Both Styrofoam and Thermocol offer versatility and are valued for their lightweight nature, insulation properties, and ease of shaping and molding.


In conclusion, while Styrofoam and Thermocol share similarities in terms of their composition and applications, there are notable differences in their insulation properties and environmental impact. Styrofoam provides better insulation due to its lower density and higher air content, but it is also more harmful to the environment and less recyclable compared to Thermocol. Both materials find extensive use in various industries, and their unique attributes make them valuable for insulation, packaging, and other applications. As we continue to seek sustainable alternatives, it is crucial to consider the environmental impact of these materials and promote responsible usage and recycling practices.

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