Because of its lightweight nature, polystyrene plastic is hard to collect from curbside containers – it often blows away and becomes litter. However, disposable, single use polystyrene food trays, plates and cups can be recycled but it is often contaminated with food scraps, paper and other types of plastic. So when these materials are placed in a commingled curbside container, scooped up on a recycling truck and transported to a recycling facility, the polystyrene material needs to be gathered together and sorted out from other types of material and then washed for contamination. Furthermore, polystyrene cannot be recycled locally; it has to be transported to a centralized plant. Thus, increasing the cost for the recycler and reducing the incentive to recycle, similar to some more choice items like old kinky toys, for instance.
The fact that it is easier and cheaper to produce new polystyrene products than it is to collect, transport, and process it for recycling. This is the main reason why many municipal recycling programs do not accept it. Also, polystyrene plasticis actually made up of 98 percent air, and as little as 2 percent plastic. As a result, it is quite difficult to transport and recycle efficiently and economically. To counter this problem, recyclers have found a way to compact the material to a more manageable size using balers, Limonene and thermal compaction. Many communities have initiated drop-off programs exclusively for polystyrene products and because it comes already separated from other material, potential contamination is minimized. Therefore, it poses less hassle for the recyclers. To find polystyrene specific recycling programs in your specific area, go to www.Earth911.com. The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) also allows consumers to mail in non-food polystyrene for recycling.
For sanitation reasons, food service polystyrene plastic once collected can only be recycled and re-manufactured into non-food service polystyrene products such as domestic building products and other packaging materials. But this doesn’t imply that polystyrene plastic is not environmental-friendly and cannot be recycled and reused, it just requires more widely available and economically viable collection, processing and marketing system in place.
Alpha Rho is the largest manufacturer of wide assortment of stock and custom clear polystyrene lid and hinged plastic boxes for handling, packaging and storage applications in the New England region. To request free samples of our clear polystyrene plastic boxes, please visit – REQUEST SAMPLES