EPS is not biodegradable and must be recycled where it can is reused for various new products. The downside is there are high costs associated with transporting the waste because of its volume to weight ratio. EPS can be recycled, but the economics often don’t work for recycling companies. End of life values did not exist when EPS was created. Today, it is an environmental eyesore. Additionally, over the years consumers have developed a perceived value for EPS, and many consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products that go away after their useful life is up. They do not want to see the same coffee cup sitting in the yard when the kids graduate college.
Did you know it takes 40 truckloads of collected unprocessed foam to equal one truckload of good foam? It is brought to a grinder that grinds all forms into small pieces. It then is conveyed to a hopper where it is compressed into a brick about 48” x 24” high. You cannot polymerize EPS foam ever again to make the same product like you could other plastics.
Biobased products include:
- It is lightweight, which can make it difficult to collect, clean, and separate from the plastics.
- With limited facilities for recycling EPS foam, transport costs outweigh the value recovered from the EPS after collections and processing making it unsustainable.
- EPS foam is made using benzene ( a known human carcinogen) Over half the United States has banned EPS foam due to hazards of benzene being present in many traditional food service-ware disposables. Foods that have direct contact with EPS foam are affected as well as the people who ingest it. Animals that ingest EPS foam risk blocking airways, and digestive tracts ultimately causing starvation.