We often only think of polystyrene foam (sometimes called Styrofoam, which is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company) as a convenient way to package to-go foods. This is a main use for polystyrene, especially in Florida, where the mom and pop, authentic restaurants and food trucks are a huge part of tourism and economics. Yet other local businesses and organizations rely on polystyrene to keep their costs down. Hospitals, for example, use foam products to minimize exposure to bacteria and foodborne pathogens. Schools also save huge amounts of money using polystyrene trays, so that public school dollars can be used to serve students instead of buying replacements. Clearly foam products serve a vital part of both the Florida economy and lifestyle, saving government agencies, businesses, schools, and of course consumers millions of dollars each year. Polystyrene, for example, is a third the cost of some other alternatives, like paper food containers that are often not even neither as durable nor effective at insulating heat.
Polystyrene, when recycled, can also be utilized to make many other materials, many of which present their own economic and environmental benefits. For example, polystyrene can become postconsumer insulation, saving money on heating and air conditioning in homes, as well as bases for windmill blades and a component of solar paneling material. This is why some people, particularly ones that endorse the Florida foam ban for environmental reasons, are misinformed. Polystyrene is actually an environmental benefit, considering it is 100% recyclable and can be turned into more environmental benefits.