How Polystyrene Foam is Recycled Everyday

The common misconception regarding Styrofoam’s ability to be recycled has led to numerous foam bans across the United States. “Styrofoam”, a Dow Chemical company’s trademarked form of expanded polystyrene (EPS), also called plastic #6. No matter what you call it, companies across the United States are working to give it a better reputation. Many companies are now easily repurposing polystyrene into new materials and it is being collected and recycled across the United States.

Why Use Polystyrene Products
Polystyrene is a best friend to many consumers. It is found in coolers, coffee cups, packing peanuts and even car parts. Companies use it because it is lightweight containing mostly air, is durable and insulates well keeping food/drinks warm or cold. EPS can take many different forms and is praised for its ability to insulate, but it hasn’t always even been able to be recycled. Companies started finding ways to recycle polystyrene because of pollution.

Styrofoam Recycling Process
There are some companies that allow consumers to actually mail in small quantities of used Styrofoam. Businesses with larger volumes of Polystyrene send their used products to plants where they will be reprocessed. Some of the everyday reprocessed products include: interior molding, pony packs, foam insulation and even rulers and pens. Used expanded polystyrene is first inspected to remove contaminants. The clean parts are separated with the parts that need washing. A grinder turns the waste into fluff. The fluff is then melted and then made into pellets. These pellets are then ready to be used by manufacturers in new products.

Benefits of Styrofoam
Styrofoam recycling not only helps save the lives of marine animals, but could also save the life of those on land. Recycling it prevents toxic chemicals from being released into the atmosphere when the material is burned.

One surprising product made from recycled EPS is one that resembles wood. This product is used for fence posts and benches. It costs less than hardwood and is used instead of wood found in the rainforest. This means recycled EPS is helping the wood industry.

Recycling polystyrene also reduces the amount of petroleum needed to manufacture the initial product. Recycling polystyrene grows as higher technology and research finds more ways to recreate the product and help save the environment.