Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Styrofoam, also known as Styrene, Polystyrene, Expanded Polystyrene, EPS or foam#6 is versatile, durable, sterile, a great thermal insulator and noise absorbent material. Those attributes make this material so suitable to be used in food industry, such as utensils, cups, plates and trays, in the medical industry as medical coolers, as well as packaging material and building insulation agent. There is a misconception that this foam cannot be recycled, where in fact, not only it can, but recycling methods and equipment have been progressed and updated in recent years.
Styrofoam can be melted, compacted, grinded or shredded thus reducing itself by up to 98% of its original volume in this process.
Recycling foam has a positive impact on our environment and our economy.
Recycled foam has a good use for companies who will reuse the recycled foam to create new materials and sell them to various industries. By recycling foam we do not just reduce its volume, but we also reuse it, making it energy efficient - The recycled material can be reprocessed and molded eventually mixed with other materials to make a new products: It can be mixed with wood, plastic or concrete to create a low-cost building material, insulation, interior molding, it can be made into picture frames, pens, rulers and other products. By recycling foam we are reusing discarded material and significantly reducing waste at the same time, instead of having to produce new materials.
Another very important advantage of recycling foam is the fact that by doing so we are clearing space from landfills. If not recycling, we throw it away as waste in our garbage bins, it takes up a lot of space and ended up thrown away and buried. Styrofoam currently takes up about 30% of our landfills. The material is partially made up of petroleum and it takes a very long time for it to decompose and break down. Thus, recycling helps prevent the deterioration of the environment and helps keep our environment green and sustainable.
Recycling foam is good for the economy and for industries. On one hand, the need to recycle foam and the fact that we produce new materials from it creates more jobs and employment opportunities, thus boosting the economy. And on the other hand, recycling decreases the frequency and cost of waste disposal. The process nowadays is so much easier - recycling machines are now taking up less space than they used to, process time is much faster and the volume reduction is maximized. To summarize, we need to keep it green and keep recycling, for our well being and for our future.