Styrofoam is the common name of the material polystyrene. It's so commonly used that hardly a day goes by when we don't see something packaged in Styrofoam. It's used in a variety of everyday items such as food packaging, cups and plates, and packing material. It's also used in industrial products, home insulation, and even hydrogen bombs.
Manufactured from petroleum, it can be difficult to know what to do with Styrofoam once we've unpacked and discarded it. It's highly flammable and takes an exceedingly long time to break down in the environment. Until it is broken down, it is hazardous as a carcinogen and as a potentially ingestible material that can block the digestive track of local wildlife. This makes disposing of used Styrofoam a complicated and involved process.
Styrofoam makes up a large part of the solid waste in landfills. This is because it's produced to be discarded, meaning it's not very useful after you've unpacked it. In an effort to reduce this, more and more people are learning how to recycle Styrofoam.
The easiest and simplest solution for your Styrofoam is to keep it around your house as packing material. Since that's what Styrofoam is originally created for, it makes an ideal packing material for shipping gifts to friends and family members. Styrofoam also makes excellent material for home planting. It helps control drainage and acts as filler.
Another idea is to take your used Styrofoam and donate it to crafts stores or local small businesses. Employees and customers at craft stores often use materials like Styrofoam for projects and crafts around the house. Call your local craft store first to make sure they accept used Styrofoam.
The best method for recycling your Styrofoam is to use a curbside recycling service. Unfortunately, many recycling services don't accept Styrofoam as one of their usual recyclable materials. Call your local recycling facility and ask if they accept polystyrene products. If not, ask them for the phone number of the nearest polystyrene recycling facility.
If you don't have a local polystyrene recycling facility, there is also a little profit to be made from your used Styrofoam. The Recycled Plastics Market Database has a listing of companies and individuals who would gladly purchase your used Styrofoam and a wide variety of other used plastics. Used Styrofoam can also be mailed to the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers from anywhere in the USA via the US postal service.