Is it safe to reuse styrofoam containers?
5. Do not reuse porous packaging materials such as paper, paperboard and expanded foams (for example, Styrofoam cups and foam meat trays). They have air spaces that will harbor food particles and microorganisms.
Similarly, plastics #3 and #6 (#6 is styrofoam) should not be reused—they also cannot be recycled. Also be sure to double-check any #7 plastic you have at home because it may contain BPA which can be bad for your health according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
These are similar to the rigorous standards established by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for styrene-based food packaging materials. So far, test results indicate that styrofoam containers are safe for use, when used appropriately.
Styrofoam cups are non-biodegradable. Throwing away this much single-use plastic is harmful for several reasons. First, Styrofoam cups are non-biodegradable. Instead of breaking down over time, Styrofoam cups break into tiny pieces and stay in the environment for hundreds of years.
It doesn't grow mold or bacteria, and it can stay sanitary in storage. Styrofoam is renowned for its long shelf life, which is precisely the problem. Because it is so chemically stable, once it's in the environment, it will be there for generations in some shape or form.
It is suggested that most foods be refrigerated within two hours following cooking. You should not keep Styrofoam containers out on the kitchen counter for more than two hours.
As concerns grow for the detrimental effects of plastic and foam products on our environment, many cities and states across the U.S. have moved to enact bans on the sale and use of some plastic and Styrofoam products.
The foam polystyrene you're likely trying to recycle is used in packaging peanuts, egg cartons, take-out containers, etc. Short answer: Styrofoam is NOT recyclable and shouldn't be placed in outdoor or commercial recycling bins.
That's because polystyrene containers contain a compound called styrene, which has been linked to cancer. However, containers with a microwave-safe label have been tested and shouldn't pose any styrene-related risks.
Polylactic Acid (PLA) lined paper is an excellent sustainable alternative to Styrofoam food packaging. It's a plant-based resin made from corn starch used to create compostable containers and liners for cups or packaging to avoid water damage.
Are Styrofoam containers banned?
As of 2022, eight U.S. states and one territory have passed legislation to ban polystyrene foam. Maryland was the first state to institute a ban which went into effect on October 1, 2020.
Polystyrene foam containers: These foam containers are some of the most used for takeout and delivery, so it's likely you've seen them. Unfortunately, they aren't recyclable and must be thrown out.
The adverse health effects associated with exposure to styrene include fatigue, reduced ability to concentrate, increase in abnormal pulmonary function, disrupted hormone function (including thyroid), headache, and irritation of the eyes and nose.
Since it also contains no organic material, mold cannot grow on it.
"It is lightweight and breaks up easily," Judson said. "Wind or rain transports foam to storm drains and water bodies, where it breaks into small pieces that are nearly impossible to remove.
Once in the landfill, it does not decompose quickly. Some estimates put the lifespan of styrofoam in a landfill around 500 years, and some put it way beyond that. Of course, some fraction of all discarded styrofoam does not go into landfills.
In case of water damage or flooding, don't worry! EPS is resistant to water and moisture. This means that it does not absorb them and that its insulating performance is not compromised when in contact with these elements.
Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) does not “decompose” in a relevant time frame, but it does break down into smaller and smaller pieces due to the action of sunlight and water.
Styrofoam has a maximum safe temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will start to warp at around 22 degrees Fahrenheit, which is boiling point.
(2008) found styrene concentrations ranging from 45 to 293 ppb in water under leaching conditions of 24–80°C for 30 min in a polystyrene cup.
What is the main issue with Styrofoam?
Polystyrene is slow to degrade, and if disposed of improperly, the foam can leach chemicals into the environment harming water sources. Polystyrene manufacturing is an enormous creator of hazardous waste. Furthermore, polystyrene manufacturing greatly contributes to global warming.
Styrene isn't known to leach out of hard plastics, but some evidence suggests that it can leach out of foam food containers and cups when food or drinks are hot – not when they're cold.
It might surprise you that making and using paper plates take 60% more material and generates 35% more greenhouse gas when compared to foam plates. However, since paper doesn't leech toxic chemicals and stay around for thousands of years, it is still a big upgrade in terms of environmental friendliness.
Meet Vio®, the world's first biodegradable* foam cup.
Vio has all the performance of foam cups, plus an eco-friendly end-of-life story that customers really go for. Good to you.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a petroleum by-product that is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable. Products made from EPS, more commonly known as Styrofoam™ can include, but are not limited to plates, bowls, cups, container lids, trays, coolers, ice chests, food containers, etc.