You’ve probably heard a lot about polystyrene, but what is real, and what is not? In the following paragraphs, we will debunk some of the most common misconceptions.
Myth: Expanded Polystyrene Is Not Recyclable
Fact: Expanded polystyrene is 100% recyclable. It is recycled and upgraded in various brand new products such as: packaging products, insulation boards, greenhouse products, large blocks, etc. There is a growing market for expanded polystyrene recycling in North America. Parts made from this material can easily be dropped at your local ecocentre or at some collection points. Now, some cities, such as Quebec, even accept it in the blue bin: check with your municipality! Once recovered, it can be reused in the manufacturing of other products from large blocks, to stuffed products, or rigid plastic parts. Recycled products may also be returned on the market as raw material.
Myth: Shipping of Non-Compacted Polystyrene to Recycling Plants is too Expensive
Fact: Over the years, Polyform has established great relationships with its customers in order to offer pickup service for non-compacted parts following the delivery of our products at their plant. However, expanded polystyrene contains 98% air, making bulk transport extremely expensive. Over the last decade, a number of companies around the world have developed “densifiers”: a last resort solution to crush material in heavy bricks for shipment.
Myth: Polystyrene Degrades and Contaminates the Environment
Fact: Polystyrene is an inert material, so it does not break down in a landfill, does not produce greenhouse gases and does not contaminate groundwater.
Myth: Polystyrene Can Decompose into Small Pieces and Enter the Food Chain, with Harmful Consequences
Fact: Over time, polystyrene can break down into small pieces, but it does not release harmful substances in the food chain. Another important feature is that it is rot-proof, which means that it does not feed mildew.
Myth: Biodegradable Packaging is Better than Polystyrene Packaging
Fact: Biodegradable packaging is not the cure for packaging waste. When biodegradable materials end up in landfills, they decompose through anaerobic degradation and produce methane, a greenhouse gas, which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. We must therefore control the products we use: reduce and optimize packaging, as well as using only what is required for protection and conservation. It is also important to remember to recycle, opting for a reliable source.
Myth: Polystyrene Uses a Lot of Landfills Space
Fact: A 1996 report by Franklin Associates demonstrates that polystyrene food packaging represents less than 1% of the municipal solid waste stream’s total volume and weight. Polystyrene is inert and should be recycled, not end up in a landfill.