Is Styrofoam recyclable?
Yes, but not all Styrofoam is recyclable. Plastic waste is becoming an environmental nightmare all around the world.
It’s thought that several million tons of Styrofoam are made every year, so can all Styrofoam be recycled? And is it really that easy to recycle?
Can You Put Styrofoam In The Recycling Bin?
Unfortunately, you can’t stick it in your recycling bins, I know it sounds stupid, but there is some reasoning behind it.
The thing is:
It breaks down so easily!
We’ve all been there at Christmas, you open a box to find polystyrene packaging holding it in place. As you slide the contents out the box, you have tiny pieces of plastic foam stuck all over your clothes.
The same happens when we try to recycle polystyrene, little pieces break off and contaminate the rest recycling with their small pieces of foam.
Now, just because I said you couldn’t stick Styrofoam in your recycling bin doesn’t been you can’t. In fact, there are some cities that offer roadside polystyrene pickup.
But if I’m honest, you have to be very lucky.
Where Can You Recycle Styrofoam?
So, mentioned earlier that you could recycle from home if you’re lucky, and it’s true. The problem is down to the difficulty of recycling it; many places don’t accept polystyrene products.
If that’s the case, what do you with all the leftover plastic called Styrofoam?
The first thing you can do is check online; some of the recycling centers in your area might accept your waste Styrofoam.
Governments around the world have also introduced drop off locations to cut down on the amount of waste ending up at landfill sites.
Some styles of polystyrene are even harder to recycle. For example, packing peanuts, these small pieces of foam quite often can’t be recycled. This is down to some peanuts being made from cornstarch; they don’t want to risk cross-contamination.
So what can you do?
Check with your local store; many are starting to offer a take-back system. Even the larger companies like UPS are interested in taking your packing peanuts off your hands. I guess it saves them money and means they don’t have to store as much.
Packing peanuts aren’t the only style of Styrofoam you can have trouble recycling; food containers also cause their own problems. It’s tough to recycle any soiled materials; this is especially true when it comes to recycling polystyrene containers.
As we all know, keeping your polystyrene container free of food stains from your local takeaway is never going to happen. However hard you try!
I guess you just have to be careful what you drop off. It might not be accepted.
How Do Prepare Styrofoam For Recycling?
Before taking all your recyclable Styrofoam to your local stores, you must prepare it for recycling. Remember you want it to be accepted.
The first thing you need to do it makes sure it’s clean, that means removing any food particles from the foam, which trust me can be harder than it seems.
The pores nature of the polystyrene makes it very hard to completely clean.
It also includes removing all the other materials for the polystyrene:
Can I Burn Styrofoam?
I mentioned early all Styrofoam is not recyclable, so what do you with it?
Can you burn it?
People always ask this question, usually when they don’t know what to do with something they tend to burn it. The thing is this doesn’t come without consequences.
But this is one of the worst things you can do!
When polystyrene gets burned, it creates a very harmful and highly toxic gas. This gas can attack your nervous system and lungs.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get burnt, to stop build up in landfill sites the government has started to incinerate it. But, they do it in a controlled fashion which, makes it a little better, but it’s not the solution.
How Long Does It Take For Styrofoam To Decompose?
Just like biodegradable plastics, polystyrene takes a long time to decompose, scientists think it will take around 500 years before it decomposes.
That means any polystyrene we chuck away will still be there long after we’ve gone.
So, is styrofoam recyclable?
Yes, the foam substances are recyclable, although very few people know this. The best thing we can do is share the knowledge we learn with everyone. And if we can, refuse to use polystyrene or at the very least make sure we reuse.
If the styrofoam came from a gift there is a good chance it was covered in wrapping paper, but can you recycle it?
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