Polystyrene foam—a material that is frequently mistaken for “Styrofoam,” a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company—commonly plays a role in our daily lives. Business owners and consumers are attracted to polystyrene foam because it is cost-effective, durable, and convenient. In addition, it has great insulating properties, which is why it is frequently used to safely ship and package food.
In order to continue using such a useful material while maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, it is important to recycle and reuse polystyrene foam. Recycling polystyrene foam is not difficult and doing so offers a number of eco-friendly benefits.
By recycling polystyrene, we decrease our use, and, subsequently, dependency, on virgin resources. Additionally, the energy needed to turn virgin materials into products can generate and release harmful emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. When comprised of recycled polystyrene foam, the process of making a new product depends increasingly less on raw resources.
The benefits indicating why we should recycle polystyrene foam are clear; recycling polystyrene foam uses less energy and conserves more raw materials. In addition, once recycled, polystyrene foam can easily be repurposed into useful, products such as building insulation and other structural elements.
To help encourage polystyrene recycling, some organizations will purchase used polystyrene foam back. To date, over 65 cities across the United States are successfully recycling polystyrene foam through mail-back programs, curbside pickups, recycling drop off centers and more. To see if your city recycles Styrofoam, visit the EPS Industry Alliance website.