Recycling Polystyrene Foam

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Styrofoam™ is a brand name for Dow insulation and the common name for all forms of polystyrene. The fact that it’s lightweight and cheap to produce makes it popular with manufacturers. But polystyrene is a landfill nightmare because of it’s initial bulk and the very long time that it takes to decompose. Also the fact that when it finally does break up it does so into pieces small enough to be ingested by birds and subsequently kill them via starvation.

Canada had a polystyrene recycler that opened in Mississauga in 1991. But after investing $300,000 in new equipment based on it’s expectation that there was about to be an influx of polystyrene from Toronto, that community decided that it wouldn’t start accepting the material in blue boxes until sometime in 2008. The recycler then determined that it couldn’t continue any longer because of poor supply and a higher Canadian dollar that led to a 30 per cent drop in revenue. The Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Association suspended the recycler’s operations in Dec. 2007.

Polystyrene is also non-renewable (made from crude oil), non-compostable, and environmentally toxic (studies have shown that chemicals in polystyrene foam are carcinogenic and can leach into food or drink).

Should this material be allowed to be used in the first place?

San Fransisco doesn’t think so. In 2007/06/01 it banned the material’s use with it’s Food Service Waste Reduction Law

Links:
CAW: Targeting Polystyrene…
2005/11/01 – GrinningPlanet: Styrofoam Cups, Clouds in Your Coffee?
2007/01/22 – BlogTO: Get It To Go Green
2007/02/08 – NowToronto: Foam Here to Eternity
2007/12/27 – Hamilton Spectator: No recycler, so Styrofoam on standby
2007/12/28 – Toronto Star: Pitching plans for waste disposal

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