Foam Bans Won’t Work. Recycling Foam Will!
Foam products provide thousands of jobs directly and indirectly through value chain involved in their manufacturing. Polystyrene is usually manufactured from Styrene, a petroleum byproduct. Bio-chemical research indicates that approximately 5% of a foam product is manufactured from polystyrene, and the remainder being pure air. In order to recycle these products, they must be thoroughly cleaned before they can be processed. This is a resource intensive process that involves both time and money.
Polystyrene is very light and it is only responsible for 0.01 percent of the entire municipal solid waste stream by weight. However, the main problem with polystyrene is its volume and not the weight. This product consumes a lot of space in landfills and to make matters worse it does not biodegrade. The product is also very expensive to recycle afresh.
There have been several attempts for Polystyrene to be banned. However, polystyrene is still beneficial in one way or another. New York had their foam ban overturned and other cities contemplating a ban, like a Mississippi foam ban, have abandoned efforts to follow through.
Foam should be recycled because it lowers packaging costs on most businesses. Foam also provides versatility, and immediately the product has been recycled into small pellets, it becomes possible for businesses to use it for different purposes including insulation that directly conserves energy. It can also be used as building materials whereby recently polystyrene has been used to construct fencing poles, a good alternative compared to using steel or cutting down trees.
School districts in the south are already using recycled foam because foam trays are a cheaper alternative compared to popular alternatives, and the saved resources can be invested in crucial learning areas such as upgrading the library, or installing a more state of the art IT system.
In addition, since businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores rely on foam products, recycled polystyrene can be used to lower operating costs. These restaurants and grocery stores must always hygienically pack their foodstuff because every meal ordered means a foam product must be used in one way or another.
Foam is cost effective compared to other packaging materials available in the market. The product is two to three times cheaper and foam also acts as a superb insulator compared to other more expensive packaging materials.
It is therefore prudent that local authorities should find ways of encouraging polystyrene recycling rather than imposing a total ban on the products.
- There are various drop-off sites in Southeastern USA and if you are unsure of your nearest location you can consult with Earth911.com. It is advisable to call local sites before embarking on any deliveries so that you can acquaint yourself with the recycler’s terms and conditions prior to the process.
- It is also possible to procure the services of a mail back program to return the foam product to the original manufacturer who will do the recycling on your behalf
- The products can also be donated to logistic companies who are ready to reuse the materials when doing the shipping
Polystyrene conservation initiative starts with you and me, and this is why we the product users must prove to the government that we can responsibly take care of it by following sound disposal process.