A species of darkling beetle larvae has an enzyme in its gut that helps it gulp down polystyrene.
Isn’t Styrofoam recyclable, though?
While technically the answer is “yes”, in reality, it’s rarely recycled. Styrofoam is only actually recyclable if it is clean, un-dyed, and uncontaminated. But because Styrofoam often holds food, it seldom meets those conditions.
Styrofoam has the potential to affect the entire ecological system of this planet.
Unfortunately, foamed polystyrene's light weight, popularity and potential to rapidly disintegrate also make it a common form of plastic pollution—whether carried away on the wind, by the rain or by a sneaky seagull lured by the smell of fish and chips, foamed polystyrene frequently finds its way into the ocean. Like practically all plastics, foamed polystyrene takes so long to truly biodegrade that it is classed as not biodegradable.
Neither banning nor recycling will rid us of Styrofoam. Can we live without it?
Given the difficulty of recycling Styrofoam, it makes sense that Maine would decide to outright ban it instead — but this is just the first step in reducing our dependence on single-use plastics.
EPS foam is a single-impact material with no market for recycling. As a result, polystyrene products are quickly discarded and make their way onto beaches and into landfills. Single-use Styrofoam items find their way into the environment at high volumes — EPS represents 30% of all landfill space by volume.
You might find it surprising to learn, however, that the much-hated Styrofoam cup is not quite as bad as we thought. Yes, these cups take forever to decompose and thus take up space in landfills. But drinking your daily cup of coffee out of a Styrofoam cup uses less energy than drinking out of a ceramic cup and washing it in hot water after each use—unless your ceramic cup lasts for 1,000 uses and you wash it only after every third use.
Did you know that Styrofoam cups and take-out containers are one of the biggest public health hazards?
According to Styrofoam facts, Styrofoam is littered more than any other waste product and fills up 30 percent of landfills globally.
Styrofoam is not only a dangerous air pollutant but also poses a great threat to humans, the environment, and animals.
The worst part is that Styrofoam takes over 500 years to decompose and in the process, it leaches harmful chemicals into the environment.
Until today, it was thought that polystyrene would pollute the environment for millennia. This widely-held assumption was based off the observation that microbes generally do not break down polystyrene. To the microbes, polystyrene is a complex food source that is energetically hard to consume.
Unfortunately, the very qualities that make expanded polystyrene (EPS) such an ubiquitous, cost-effective material are also the reasons it has become an all-out environmental nightmare.
The Dart Container Corporation, which makes foam products, is a manufacturing behemoth and produced a fortune for the family behind it. Environmentalists say its products are polluting the globe.
Styrofoam may be good for keeping coffee hot, but it is also good for stirring up political controversy. That’s because many of the things that make styrofoam good for consumers and commerce also make it bad for the environment.