Can You Recycle Styrofoam?

Can You Recycle Styrofoam?

Does Styrofoam go into recycling? People are often puzzled why Styrofoam seems to be of a different material than plastics, which can easily be placed in recycling bins in curbside areas. We’re going to explain why Styrofoam is processed differently from regular plastic in today’s blog.

Is The Styrofoam Recyclable? 

Can I put Styrofoam in the recycle bin?

For the most part, no, you can’t put Styrofoam packages and packing material in curbside recycling bins. Some governments allow it, but most of the time, they don’t. 

The truth of the matter is that many governments consider Styrofoam a type of contaminant in recycling. In short, they don’t welcome its presence alongside other plastics that can easily be recycled. Styrofoam is considered a bad addition to a batch of potential recyclables, and it may cause rejection, even in the facility. 

Can I Put Styrofoam in Recycle? 

In most cases, Styrofoam is discouraged, and you can’t place Styrofoam alongside other plastics. The biggest issue with polystyrene or Styrofoam is that it is often stained or contaminated with beverages and food. 

This material is also composed of more than 90% air, so storage is a huge problem. Styrofoam recycling becomes more complicated because of these factors. Styrofoam or EPS is banned in many places because it’s difficult to recycle and the sheer number of EPS makes it hard to control in the landfills. The number one issue with EPS is its density. 

EPS products are big, and they take up a lot of air. It is costly to store and transport them to recycling facilities. The washing process is also complicated further by the fact that Styrofoam is naturally porous. Porosity can cause the material to harbor contaminants that will prevent proper recycling. 

Is Styrofoam Environmentally Friendly? 

Is Styrofoam recyclable?

Yes, Styrofoam is recyclable. However, the problem is the difficulty at which this material can be recycled. Styrofoam is expansive, has too much air, and is often packed with contaminants. Unlike regular plastic products, Styrofoam doesn’t clean well because of its porosity. 

Is Styrofoam biodegradable?

Like other plastic products, it does not lyse or break down easily with the sun’s action. It is estimated that a single piece of Styrofoam packaging will require at least 500 years before it breaks down. Styrofoam, like other plastic products, is made to last forever. Five hundred years is barely a short period for humans. There are also other issues with the use of EPS or Styrofoam. 

The first issue is the number of EPS produced and thrown into landfills annually. The current figures in the US point at 1.3 tons of EPS. Much of the EPS in many countries are relegated to landfills where they stay there, poisoning the land the groundwater sources. The second additional issue with Styrofoam is the fact that it becomes unstable with the introduction of heat. 

No, it doesn’t degrade with heat fully. Instead, it releases noxious gases into the environment that are harmful to all life and the ozone layer. The ozone layer is the boundary that splits the harmful UV that can cause skin cancer in humans and animals. 

And finally, Styrofoam is prone to physical breaking (not decomposition), and like other plastics, Styrofoam will cause marine animal deaths if it is somehow transported to the sea or ocean. 

Marine animals are prone to ingesting plastic particles because they can’t discern plastic from other kinds of food. They’re not aware that bits of Styrofoam are not algae or detritus, and therefore, they won’t be able to digest these.

What Can I Do with Styrofoam?

Since EPS or Styrofoam is still used in packing, we have to do something about the mounting waste in our homes. We suggest that you reuse the Styrofoam instead. For one, packing peanuts can be used to secure your other possessions for long-term storage. Sure, the EPS will still be in your home, but at the same time, it’s still useful, and it won’t be clutter because it’s going to be in a box.

Packing peanuts and other EPS materials can also be used as alternative stuffing. You can create pillows and even beanbags by stuffing the containers with EPS. Just think of how soft a beanbag would be with stuffing peanuts and EPS in general. 

You would be able to maximize the usefulness of the Styrofoam, and you could probably think of other ways to use it. You can also combine EPS with other packing materials so that you can control your waste.

Next is your cooler. Do you remember the struggle of keeping the contents of a cooler, well, cold? Cooler boxes are made of Styrofoam (and plastic) and adding additional layers of Styrofoam to a cooler can help improve insulation. In short, you are going to get better cooling action with your cooler, and it would take longer before the ice melts. 

How cool is that? Of course, you should never put EPS in place of ice; that doesn’t make sense. EPS won’t cool to the ice level anyway, so there is no reason to do that. 

Styrofoam can also be used to make indoor pots lighter. Instead of filling the pot to the top, fill the lower 25% of the pot with some packing peanuts, or you can also use shredded Styrofoam. Add the potting soil on top. Shredded Styrofoam will not cause problems and will drain naturally. There’s no harm done to the plant, and you can continue using EPS as a pot filler. 

Styrofoam can easily be compressed, so you can use it to insulate small crannies and even tighten loose screws. This is a particularly neat trick that you can use throughout the house. 

Puncture a small piece of EPS with a screw and re-screw the nut into the wall. You will immediately notice that the screw is going to be tighter afterward. The piece of Styrofoam will not mess with the screw, and the material is soft enough to be grabbed by the screw itself. 

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