Recycling Styrofoam

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Styrofoam, or polystyrene, is a plastic that’s all around us, and is very hard to recycle.  Most programs just won’t take it.  This petroleum-derived material is also responsible for a significant amount of benzene production, takes a long time to break down, is highly flammable, and can kill animals which accidentally eat it.  For some of us, it’s surprising that this substance is still used in so many different sectors, including food packaging.

Some products are made from polystyrene, but don’t appear to be, as well.  You can tell by looking for the number six stamped in the recycling triangle somewhere on the item.  Since it’ll probably be a long time before we as a society stop using polystyrene, it’s important to know what to do with it.  After all, while you can avoid buying products that use it, you can’t stop other people from shipping you items with polystyrene “peanuts” or other filler.

To avoid throwing this material into the landfill, you may wish to investigate recycling options.  However, for many of us, this is harder than it sounds.  Most curbside programs don’t take polystyrene, and it’s bulky and hard to store.  There are recycling options, though.  About ten to twelve percent of this packaging is recycled in the US every year, often to make more packaging products.  If you’re hoping to keep polystyrene out of the waste stream, here are a few tips.

– Keep polystyrene as packing.  You’ll eventually need to ship something, and keeping chunks of this material around for the purpose can help.  Break large chunks into smaller ones and store them in bags.  To prevent little pellets of the material from running around loose, wrap up packets of polystyrene using unwanted shopping bags or plastic packaging.

-Find others who will reuse it.  Some craft stores will take old polystyrene for craft projects.  Polystyrene can also be used in planters as filler and to improve drainage.

-Recycle it.  Check online to find out in there are any organizations and companies that will take this kind of material for recycling.  You may be surprised by what’s in your area.  If you can’t find anything, remember that there are also recyclers that will allow you to mail your excess polystyrene to them.  In some cases, you may even be able to get a little money out of it, provided you have a lot of polystyrene on hand.

Prevention is best, so the first step is avoiding buying the stuff in the first place.  However, you can’t always keep it from ending up in your hands.  If that’s happened to you, these tips could help you do something other than throw it away.

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  3. Blackwater Recycling Systems
  4. Green and Earth Friendly Plastic Bags
  5. Cell Phone Recycling
  6. Green Living Tips for Living Life

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