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When we’re finished with our Styrofoam packaging, we generally either throw it in the trash or in the recycling bin – but is either correct? Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand by The Dow Chemical Company and is a closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). This is different from Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS), which is what is used for food and beverage containers. In this article, we will refer to both as Styrofoam for simplicity’s sake as we discuss how to properly dispose of these incredibly common insulators!
Can You Throw Styrofoam in the Trash?
As you may have guessed, Styrofoam is not biodegradable – therefore, it should not be thrown in the trash. Recycling or reusing Styrofoam is the much safer option for a substance that is non -biodegradable, so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill and further damage the environment.
AirSeaContainers.com explains why you should not dispose of Styrofoam by throwing it in the trash:
“On a global scale, over 14 million tons of Styrofoam are produced annually. A significant portion of this is disposed of as waste. For shippers and consumers, the most apparent solution to disposing of Styrofoam is to throw it away. However, this is not an environmentally friendly approach because Styrofoam packaging is not biodegradable. Instead, recycling or reusing are much better options.The National Toxicology Program has flagged the chemical styrene as a possible carcinogen. The decomposition process could release toxins that can damage the earth’s ecosystems and which make it unsafe to dispose of by burning.”
How to Recycle Styrofoam
Ideally, Styrofoam should not be thrown in your curb-side recycling bin and should instead be dropped off at a facility that accepts Styrofoam. While this may seem inconvenient, finding a facility that specifically accepts Styrofoam is incredibly helpful to your local recycling facility as well as to the environment.
Finding Our Green Life tells us how to locate a facility that will accept your used Styrofoam:
“There are many facilities where you can drop off styrofoam, you just have to find them. Some grocery stores, like Publix, have a styrofoam collection receptacle where you can deposit things like cups, meat trays and food take out containers. Just make sure you prepare them properly. For packing peanuts, you can usually take those to a mailing center like UPS or PakMail. Call ahead to double-check. Just make sure you pull out a few to use as toe separators for your next at-home pedicure!”
Yes, it is possible to donate your styrofoam! By donating to a facility that specifically reuses Styrofoam, you can be sure that your used packaging is being put to good use. Mailing in your used Styrofoam can also be an option, but will usually cost you.
Stanford Magazine explains how to donate your used Styrofoam:
“Go to Earth911.com, type in “polystyrene” and your zip code, and it will tell you where your closest drop-off site is. The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) has a list of centers that will accept your excess EPS via mail. Admittedly, either of these options will cost you money in gas or shipping (up to $9 for shipping according to AFPR), but the EPS will be recycled into office supplies or insulation instead of being dumped into a landfill.”
We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including how to correctly recycle your used Styrofoam, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.
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