GreenCitizen accepts Styrofoam for recycling at our Burlingame EcoCenter. We charge $5 per 30-gallon bag. This fee covers our logistic and processing costs, as well as the cost of the Styrofoam condenser itself.
What Is Styrofoam Anyway?
Styrofoam is the name of a trademarked, extruded, closed-cell polystyrene foam produced by the Dow Chemical Company and introduced to the U.S. market in 1954. However, the word “Styrofoam” informally refers to various polystyrene foam products (similar to the word “Kleenex” informally referring to all facial tissue paper products). EPS (expanded polystyrene) is rigid, closed-cell foam often found in packaging and food takeout containers. XPS (extruded polystyrene), slightly denser and rougher, has similar uses.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified styrene, the material that makes up Styrofoam, as a possible human carcinogen. Every day, about 1369 tons of Styrofoam ends up in a landfill and it takes 500 years to decompose. When heated, Styrofoam releases toxins. Even exposure to sunlight creates air pollutants that harm landfills and the ozone layer. It’s infamous for breaking into smaller pieces, which can fatally harm mammals or fish that ingest them.
The best course of action around this environmentally unfriendly material begins with you, the consumer. Bring your own reusable food containers to restaurants and just say no to that inevitable Styrofoam takeout box. Avoid buying products with Styrofoam packaging, including online purchases that must be shipped to you. Biodegradable packaging materials are becoming more readily available (check out this New Yorker article to see how fungus might become the answer). Nevertheless, Styrofoam is so deeply embedded in our single-use, disposable culture that accumulating it seems inevitable.
How Does GreenCitizen Recycle Your Styrofoam?
To learn more, come to our Burlingame EcoCenter and take a close look at some condensed Styrofoam. Bring us all that unwanted packaging material cluttering your closet or garage, and help us recycle this stuff to keep it out of the landfill. Thank you so much for doing your part!