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BASF and Schaumaplast join forces to provide refrigerated COVID-19 vaccine

To meet the demanding challenges of vaccine logistics, Schaumaplast uses Styropor® and Neopor® granules from BASF with its pharmaboxes. In cooperation with the pharmaceutical logistics company Unitax, vaccine doses are also delivered in sustainable pharmaceutical boxes made of Styropor® BMB.

The distribution of the coronavirus vaccine is already in full swing worldwide. The big challenge during transport: to bring the vaccine not only safely, but depending on the vaccine manufacturer, at different temperatures from -20ºC to -70ºC through rough distribution to storage centres. The temperature must be kept constant for a period of up to five days. The vaccine is then finely distributed at +2ºC to +8ºC to the vaccination centres and to mobile vaccination teams. To meet these requirements, the material of the pharmaboxes must fulfill special properties. Schaumaplast therefore uses pharmaceutical boxes made of the expandable polystyrene products Styropor® and Neopor® from BASF. Both have excellent insulating properties and compressive strength. Neopor® in particular creates an even higher insulating performance. It is therefore suitable as an insensitive transport box for sensitive medical products such as the COVID-19 vaccine in all temperature ranges.

Thermoboxes Schaumaplast

Neopor - The raw material

Packaging with Styropor


Sustainability aspects are taken into account in vaccine logistics thanks to the cooperation between BASF, Unitax and Schaumaplast. 


Resource-saving vaccine boxes made of Styropor® BMB

The pharmaceutical logistics company Unitax uses pharmaceutical boxes from Schaumaplast made of biomass-balanced Styropor® BMB from BASF for Corona vaccine logistics. The cooperation between the three companies takes several sustainability aspects into account at the same time: Unitax uses, among other things, electric vehicles to transport the EPS boxes to the vaccination centres. In addition, Schaumaplast and Unitax complement each other with the use of their active and passive cooling systems, which means that the logistics company's journeys can be optimised and thus reduced. Schaumaplast is the first TÜV-certified processor to offer refrigerated packaging made of Styropor® BMB. The EPS boxes made from this material have an improved environmental profile, because in the production of the raw material at BASF, fossil raw materials are replaced by renewable resources such as bio-naphtha or biogas. These products are used at the beginning of the manufacturing process in the BASF Verbund. The biomass-balanced proportion is later mathematically assigned to the end products via a certified process. The proven properties of conventional Styropor® are not lost, on the contrary: the refrigerated packaging is just as insulating, pressure-resistant, safe in transport and additionally resource-saving.

The equipment options

In order to guarantee the different temperature ranges, Schaumaplast optionally equips the boxes made of Neopor® with dry ice or special cooling elements. The dry ice manages to cool the EPS boxes to a temperature of -79ºC. 


Small box made of Neopor® loaded with dry ice (-20ºC/-79ºC)


Large box made of Neopor® equipped with cooling elements (+2ºC to +8ºC)


Once the rough distribution to the storage centres has taken place, the vaccine needs a temperature range of +2ºC to +8ºC just before vaccination. However, higher temperatures do not automatically mean easier loading of the boxes. On the contrary: the cooling elements must ensure that it is cold, but equally not too cold.

Special cooling elements from Schaumaplast


The cold and supply chain

The drop test facility by Schaumaplast

The basis for the medicine boxes, the Styropor® and Neopor® granulate, comes from BASF production. Schaumaplast, as the processor, foams the material and uses it to make the pharmaceutical boxes for the vaccine. EPS has to prove its properties in the drop test facility at Schaumaplast. The boxes are dropped several times from a height of 1,20m to the ground to test their compressive strength. The combination of Schaumaplast's special cooling elements, dry ice and the properties of EPS are crucial for the safe transport of vaccines and the maintenance of the cold chain. The packed EPS box undergoes further tests in the development department: Different outside temperatures and a complete transport are simulated in a temperature test cell. Logistics companies specialising in the transport of medical products bring the pharmaceutical boxes to storage centres. From there, the loads are finally distributed to the vaccination centres and the mobile vaccination teams. Thanks to this close cooperation between BASF and Schaumaplast, people in Germany are supplied with the COVID-19 vaccine. In the future, the EPS boxes can also be shipped internationally, in which case they will have to prove their properties even more, when the vaccine is transported to much warmer countries.

THERMOCON_Classic 6.5 (1)
EPS box is packed with special cooling elements

From raw material to vaccination centers


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