How to Recycle Styrofoam

Are you wondering how to recycle styrofoam? Styrofoam is a soft and flexible material used throughout the world by almost everyone. It makes great packaging for food as it does a great job of keeping it warm until the food has been delivered. Due to its functionality, Styrofoam sees a lot of usages, and as it’s waterproof, it provides perfect protection in different types of weather. It’s also a lightweight yet solid material, and it’s quite buoyant, meaning it can float on any liquid surface.

Styrofoam also provides great insulation in building construction and also in plumbing, so people who work in the labor section might find a lot of use for Styrofoam. But out of all the times, Styrofoam is used, it, like other things, goes to waste and pollutes the environment. It might get dumped in lakes, which provides us with fresh drinking water, and the chemicals in Styrofoam are likely to turn the water harmful. This is also bad news for the wildlife in the area as they may also be dependent on the lake’s water. That’s why we need to figure out how to recycle styrofoam and how we can put them to better use.

Advantages of Styrofoam

Styrofoam, which is also known as polystyrene, is a versatile material that consumers anywhere can exploit. The foam materials are valued for their insulation and the padding they provide when trying to transfer fragile objects or consumable products. The lightweight material is easy to carry, and some of the finer points about Styrofoam have been listed below.

  • As polystyrene is inert against other types of materials like metal, the insulation it provides is perfect for use in electronic devices. Most of your home appliances contain some amount of polystyrene as it’s a lightweight and cheap material. This turns the product cost-effective, and for people looking to reduce any expenses, it’s a must-have.
  • It’s also used in the manufacturing of many automotive vehicles. Most of the parts in your car have been made from polystyrene as it’s a solid and foam material. Your seat contains polystyrene, which makes it a soft and comfortable engine for you to drive in. It also has sound dampening capabilities so that no sound goes out from your car, so that important conversations stay inside.
  • One of the best and most overused uses for Styrofoam is as a sort of packaging. When traveling long distances, your products might end up being moved around a lot. Too much movement like tossing and turning might damage the things inside, especially if it’s made from glass. This is where Styrofoam shines as it absorbs the energy from the movement to contain consumer products safely.
  • Hospitals have been successful in finding a variety of uses for Styrofoam in containing medical equipment, which is often large and heavy. It can be used to safeguard the hygienic equipment used by doctors and nurses and provides sufficient protection for equipment used in tests such as test tubes, trays, or Petri dishes.
  • In construction and maintenance, one of the more widely used components is Styrofoam, as the insulation it provides is perfect for electrical maintenance. It’s lined in the walls throughout your homes to act as a shield for the wires inside your walls by keeping them away from dust, and the waterproof material is great for preventing any sudden short-circuiting in your homes.

Disadvantages of Styrofoam

Like all good things, Styrofoam also has a bad side, so we should be careful in heeding these negative qualities whenever we end up using Styrofoam. It can do more than just pollute the environment. The pollution generated is still the major factor when dealing with any kind of waste. To broaden your minds about these problems, the cons have been listed below.

  • Environmentalists are majorly concerned about the rise in the gathering of Styrofoam in a single location. As people become more conscious, they will be looking to limit this problem, but as Styrofoam is not something that can be easily biodegradable, it’s that much harder to get rid of it. Also, Styrofoam is foamy and might end up splitting into tiny ball-like particles, making it harder to clean up the leftover residue.
  • Styrofoam is made from components that are synthetic and man-made, meaning they contain a cluster of chemicals that may hurt the majority when there is an abundance of styrofoam leftover in landfills. The pollution from these is a big problem as it may spill into waterways in the big city and they might end up causing harm to the population nearby.
  • For people who are looking to use Styrofoam, it may not be a plausible option as it’s likely banned in some regions around the world. So if you want to put Styrofoam to use, then that’s bad news for you as you need to look for an alternative that can work just as well as Styrofoam. This may be a time-consuming search as something as lightweight and durable as Styrofoam is not easy to come by. There have also been some arguments made that show that the banning of Styrofoam leads to people using alternatives that are much more harmful and cause a bigger concern for the environment.
  • Most of the Styrofoam that we use is also made from petroleum, which is a non-sustainable resource. The use of petroleum is one of the major rising problems when concerned with pollution. As it’s a type of fuel used by cars, petroleum releases poisonous and harmful gasses in the air, making it harder for us to breathe. For countries which experience a heavy number of daily traffic, it’s a big problem if emission is being produced day and night every day.

How to recycle styrofoam?

You may have heard that Styrofoam can not be so easily recycled. As a result, they spend the rest of their lives bunched up together in huge dirty landfills. If you’re trying to use a regular method of recycling for these little white balls, then we have some bad news for you. It’s difficult to break down Styrofoam, meaning it’s going to be that much more difficult for you to find some way to recycle it. So, how to recycle styrofoam?

Most governments do not accept Styrofoam to be recycled, so depending on your location, the difficulty in recycling Styrofoam may vary. The process of breaking down Styrofoam takes up a lot of time. It’s a very slow process that takes up the time in which other degradable materials can be recycled, building up to the gathering of pollution, which we should be quickly trying to limit.

These hard to recycle pieces have nowhere else to go and often end up creating large piles of waste that stay in that place, often for a long unspecified period. Even though Styrofoam is difficult to recycle, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Since Styrofoam is often used in construction, it contains plastic and petroleum, which are not to be recyclable, so recycling styrofoam isn’t too far off. You just need to know the right places where Styrofoam is accepted for recycling.

How Can It Be Recycled?

Even though recycling Styrofoam can be a headache, there are still some grocery stores that have been widely known to be accepting of Styrofoam for reuse in other ventures. There are some companies, such as shipping businesses, that take back the packing peanuts with them so that they can be reused when transporting other deliveries.

You should also be sure to check out some drop off points nearby you as some companies have fixed locations where they accept foam packaging for recycling and other uses. These types of locations are often issued by either the government or the businesses that use Styrofoam for transportation.

What makes Styrofoam so difficult to recycle is that after they have been broken down, there will not be much leftover that you can reuse or recycle. The fact that it’s not an easily biodegradable product is what should give you the idea that if you tried to break it down, then you should be ready to end up wasting a lot of time that could have been otherwise used in other tasks.

Styrofoam is hard to recycle, and some garbage haulers will entirely avoid collecting any waste related to Styrofoam, but there are still a few out there who will accept Styrofoam for recycling. To make sure, you should consult with your nearby haulers to find out if they accept Styrofoam as there might be some who will gladly depart the Styrofoam from your possession. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunities, so be sure to be thorough in your search for a hauler that will accept your waste.

One of the uses for packing peanuts that you can do is to reuse them for protecting fragile objects that you’re sending to others. You can save these peanuts for later use if you don’t like to leave anything to waste. As long as Styrofoam is in the form of packing materials, then there is a high chance that you can drop them off for recycling. Because of their notorious reputation for causing harm to the environment, people are often wary of accepting Styrofoam for recycling.

The way to break up Styrofoam is to feed them through conveyor belts that shred them into tiny pieces. The smaller pieces are then heated up to be melted into a paste that can be formed into ingot like shapes after cooling down. The ingots are then shredded into tiny pieces again to be formed into Styrofoam that we can use again. Even though this is one of the more difficult ways to reuse Styrofoam, it’s also a process that makes transportation easier for the future. This is also a safe process as the heating of the small particles does not cause any emissions.

There is another process to break down Styrofoam through limonene, which is a liquid hydrocarbon extracted from a citrus plant that can be used to melt the Styrofoam. This method is used by Asian countries to melt Styrofoam and is an eco-friendly process of recycling Styrofoam, which is already dangerous for the environment.

The form that Styrofoam takes after being melted makes it easier for us to move the remains to the factories where Styrofoam is distributed for mass use throughout the world or by you in construction and packaging.

Thanks to advancements in technology, researchers have come up with more high-tech and much safer ways to create a more efficient breakdown of Styrofoam into recyclable particles. They aim to reduce the pollution from Styrofoam for the betterment of society as a whole as the more pollution gathers, the more it will be harmful to us and our coming generations. As Styrofoam has a wide range of uses, recycling Styrofoam is a great way to lengthen the lifespan and the time of use of Styrofoam. The expanded form of polystyrene is a great cushioning material for carrying and distributing any fragile equipment.

Bottom Line

Styrofoam is a major contribution to pollution, and with how much we waste nowadays, it’s not surprising that the rise in pollution is improving at an immense rate. With countries high in the population such as India, there are a lot of old automobiles active that use up, fuel and emissions are greater during traffic.

To reduce the harm to the environment and us as a species, it should be within our ability to control how much pollution we emit each year. Recycling is a way to reach this goal as it teaches us to reduce waste and to make do with the things we already have so that nothing is wasted.

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