Polystyrene Myths

There are misconceptions in the market about polystyrene.

Myth: Polystyrene is not recyclable.

Fact: Polystyrene is recyclable! Polystyrene is recycled into many valuable new products, such as picture frames, coat hangers, seedling trays, cornices and moldings, baseboards, office supplies and fire-retardant materials. There is a growing market for recycled polystyrene. And with the addition of PolyRenew®, polystyrene is now being recycled in food service applications as well. To learn more about polystyrene recycling visit the EPS Industry Alliance website (www.epsindustry.org) and the Plastics Foodservice Facts website (www.plasticsfoodservicefacts.com).

Myth: Polystyrene is taking up large amounts of landfill space.

Fact: Polystyrene foodservice packaging currently accounts for less than 1 percent by weight and volume of land-filled materials. 

Myth: CFCs are used in the production of foam polystyrene.

Fact: No CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are used in the manufacturing of foam polystyrene.

Myth: Polystyrene is not a good food-packaging container, as chemicals can leach out.

Fact: Polystyrene meets stringent U.S. FDA standards for use in food contact packaging and is safe for consumers. Health organizations encourage the use of single-use food service products, including polystyrene, because they provide increased food safety. In fact, Safe Food Handling Practices, particularly those associated with un-cooked meats, have become much easier to ensure with the use of polystyrene packaging which captures but does not absorb fluids like pulp trays. 

Myth: Paperboard coffee cups are better than polystyrene ones.

Fact: In most cases, polystyrene food service foam packaging has an environmental footprint that is lower than or comparable to alternative packages. For example, a polystyrene foam 16 oz. cup for hot beverages uses 50 percent less energy to produce, produces 1/3 fewer greenhouse gas emissions and produces 50 percent less solid waste by volume compared to a paperboard 16 oz. cup with a sleeve.

Plastic MythBusters site for an extensive database of plastic myths and truths.

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