Styrofoam is used for packing, insulation, and other applications. While it is light, easy to manufacture, and has thousands of uses in industry and shipping, Styrofoam can pose a very strict and real hazard to the environment as a non-biodegradable waste product. Here are some easy ways to get rid of Styrofoam.
What is Styrofoam?
In the manufacturing industry, Styrofoam is known as polystyrene. Polystyrene is a carbon-based polymer, and is one of the many byproducts of petroleum production. While the word “Styrofoam” is used as a trademark by the Dow Chemical Company, the word may also refer to commercial materials made with polystyrene. Lightweight, waterproof, and easy to manufacture, Styrofoam has been used since the early parts of the 20th century for packing, manufacturing, and arts and crafts.
Types of Polystyrene Foam
There are two types of polystyrene foam available on the market:
- Expanded polystyrene are lightweight, expanded beads of polystyrene used for packing. Styrofoam “peanuts” and molded material for packaging fragile goods are made from expanded polystyrene.
- Extruded polystyrene materials are thin, lightweight boards used for model-making, painting, and arts and crafts. Polystyrene products made by extrusion are less dense and have high resistance to heat, which makes them excellent for food packages, utensils, and coffee cups.
Polystyrene is very useful, but the volume of the products made from this material is now making it an increasingly difficult environmental problem to solve. The problems brought about by the high volume of polystyrene produced and disposed of in the world has caused a large amount of waste to build up in landfills, rivers, and communities. Industries have invented and innovated ways to reduce the use of Styrofoam and make polystyrene and starch compounds, but the prevalence of polystyrene remains a problem.
Polystyrene is a recyclable product (with “6” as its designation). While the number of uses you may have for beads or for packing foam is limited, you can still use and reuse utensils like cups, containers, and clamshell food trays. You may also take them to a recycling center so that they can be processed into other useful items.
Sort Your Garbage
Some people have the habit of “sneaking in” bits and pieces of broken-up Styrofoam into their garbage. While that gets rid of the garbage in your home, the pellets and chunks of foam that you throw away will eventually make its way into the environment, causing pollution and some degree of environmental damage.
One way that you could dispose of Styrofoam safely is to pack the waste material in a separate rubbish bin or container, and have the trash collectors transport the Styrofoam to a recycling company. They can process the Styrofoam into other different products, or incinerate it in the proper way.
Thanks to a global financial crisis, many people are now looking for alternative sources of income. One popular trade taking place in many online shopping sites is selling foam packaging at fixed types and volumes for a fair and reasonable cost. Not only do you help save the environment, but you can also help others have a fair shot at making a living even at hard times.
Use Less Styrofoam
Some people claim that Styrofoam is the cause of an environmental problem, but it becomes a threat to the environment if you use too many Styrofoam products. Here are some tips:
- Instead of using foam cups for hot coffee, bring your own mug to the store, or use your own mug for the coffee machine.
- When ordering food for take-out, insist on paper packaging for food. If the restaurant you get take-out orders from does not have paper packaging like bags or boxes, keep a couple of plastic containers in the trunk or glove compartment of your car.
- Use recycled cardboard for your arts and crafts or model-making.
- Try to use less products that use polystyrene packaging. Many packing beads are now made from cellulose or starch.
Styrofoam is one of the most useful innovations in modern society, but the environmental costs of years of use have taken their toll on the planet (Tips on how to save the planet). With these steps and tips, you can use Styrofoam prudently and help save the planet without making your life inconvenient.
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