Contrary to popular belief, polystyrene foam products can be recycled. In fact, over 65 cities across the United States are recycling this material, everyday. That being said, many argue that polystyrene foam products are a more environmentally friendly alternative than paper products.
What products are made out of polystyrene foam?
Polystyrene foam products are your typical disposable foam products that are usually white in color and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To identify polystyrene foam products, look for the recycling triangle label that contains the number 6 inside of it.
Think of lunch trays at a school cafeteria, the container you get your Chinese food takeout in, your local coffee shop’s disposable foam cups. Also think of single use dinnerware such as plates that are not made out of paper. These disposable plates are most likely made out of polystyrene foam. The products mentioned are just a few examples of polystyrene foam items that you probably use in your everyday life.
How are polystyrene foam products better for the environment?
An example that illustrates foam products as advantageous over paper products is when you compare the way people use foam cups with the way people use paper cups when it comes to hot beverages.
Foam is a much better insulator than paper. A hot beverage such as tea or coffee will lose twice as much heat in a paper cup in 10 minutes than if it was in a foam cup. Many people who use paper cups also wrap napkins, place their beverage within a second cup, or use a cardboard sleeve to protect their hands from the hot exterior of the paper cup. A foam cup will not heat up as much as a paper cup and will not require double cups or napkins wrapped around it in order to drink from it.
In addition, foam cups tend to weigh anywhere from 2 to 5 times less http://plasticfoodservicefacts.com/main/Environment/WasteEnergy-Impacts_1.html than paper cups. This leads to the environmental impact assessment. Using foam cups will produce less trash as double cupping is not required, and less trash by weight as foam cups are much lighter than paper cups. Another advantage of using foams cups and dinnerware over paper alternatives is that the manufacturing and disposal of paper products uses significantly more energy than that of foam products.