Polystyrene is the material that composes all sorts of foam products that you typically see when you get takeout food, when you grab a coffee, and is used in all sorts of other things. One of the biggest problems with these types of products it the fact that there have not been efforts to recycle foam, although there are absolutely ways to do it.
In the past, polystyrene products were simply dumped in landfills and there has been a massive accumulation, which has led major cities all over the country to declare that they would be officially banning the material. This includes a proposed Louisiana foam ban that has concerned a lot of businesses, as the material is extremely cheap, leading to lower overall costs to run their businesses. Once the bans take place, business owners would be hit with hefty fines if they are caught using foam based products, and they will also have to incur the higher costs of substitute materials.
Recycling polystyrene on a large scale would work and should be implemented within each city. Additionally, the landfills that have already been loaded will polystyrene can start to be emptied and recycled, which would be great for the environment. A lot of states are taking active measures to prepare for this transition to recycling foam on a large scale, one of which is Louisiana. They have been conducting tests to attempt to recycle foam as efficiently as they possibly can, but the problem still involves getting the public aware and developing recycling centers that are easily accessible.
Recycling polystyrene products is a much better route, as there are ways that it can easily and efficiently be recycled. The first problem is the mere fact that few people even know that you can recycle foam and just assume that it is trash. The first thing that would have to change is the public perception on foam, which could only be done by educating people about the ability to recycle. Many people think that a ban on the material is the best way to address the problem, as they feel that this will decrease the amount of trash that is ending up in landfills, which ultimately are going to stay there for over five hundred years, until the products finally degrade. However, a lot of people do not realize that we already have a huge problem with the drastic volume of polystyrene based products that are already occupying landfills.
Florida has recently talked about the prospect of implementing a foam ban across the state. This Florida foam ban would not only affect small businesses and schools, but the whole tourist economy of Florida. The reality is that even if Florida was to ban foam and switch to more costly alternatives, wouldn’t those be littered as well? Rather than ban foam to prevent the wellbeing of Florida’s terrain it is important to create more recycling centers where foam can be recycled and inform Floridians on the resourcefulness of foam.
Foam is a 100 percent recyclable and currently there are four Dart recycling centers for foam in Florida. They are located in Jacksonville, Miami, Plant City and Tampa. The community can work together to build even more recycling centers where foam can be recycled rather than just tossed on the beach. Florida is a huge tourist destination where people go to enjoy the terrain of the state. Between the wildlife creatures of the sunshine state, the beaches, and the 12 national parks of Florida it is important to preserve this resourceful state. Banning foam does not have to be the solution to do this though.
There are several reasons why we should recycle, but first and foremost it is because it is good for the environment. By recycling you are saving resources, energy and money. Recycling leads to getting rid of less trash, which reduces air and water pollution that is circulating in the environment. By reducing the amount that you dispose of each day you are actually helping the landfills. The size of landfills benefit from the amount of waste we are recycling rather than disposing of. If landfill sites are inundated with waste it can have negative affects on the environment and its surroundings.
Recycling foam can also lead to the prospect of more jobs for people in a community, which is always a positive side! It is important to look at the pros and cons to the foam ban and realize that foam might not be the issue, but litter is the larger issue at hand.
Polystyrene foam is 100 percent recyclable, which makes it a multi-use material made for long durations. Foam products are heat resistant, insulated and more affordable than other materials. In schools alone, using foam trays saves schools tremendous amounts of money a year compared to using compostable trays, which are a more pricey option.
As more states are quick to add foam bans it is important to think about the impact it will have on small businesses and organizations across states. The prospect of a Connecticut foam ban will put hardworking people out of jobs and increase costs for a lot of companies who rely heavily on foam.
The concept of a foam ban was created in an attempt to both eliminate litter and “go green,” but in turn it is worse to eliminate foam all together. Consumers will start to use other products, which will also be littered just like foam and it will create a vicious cycle.
So, what is a better solution?
Foam recycling centers are popping up around North America and are continuing to expand. In Massachusetts there are currently six foam recycling locations, which are located in Carlisle, Leominster, Newburyport, Reading, Newton and South Hadley. There is room for more recycling centers across New England, which will support all of the smaller states as well.
Recycling centers are a more practical solution than a foam ban since foam is more functional and affordable than its alternative options. Recycling centers are a place where people can come and bring polystyrene foam products that they are no longer using and in turn their products will be refurbished into either hangers, picture frames, rulers or much more.