Top Ways to Recycle Foam Packaging
Did you know that the average American throws away almost sixty pounds of styrofoam each year? If you follow the news, it seems like we hear a new story about the detrimental effects of plastic on the environment nearly every day.
We use plastics and their derivatives to safely transport large appliances, electronics, food, coffee, and other goods like glass bottles.
So, how can we use it and prevent polluting our oceans and lakes? Here, we will share the top ways to recycle foam packaging to protect our environment.
1. Find a Foam Recycling Facility
Many recycling facilities are available to help recycle foam packaging if curbside recycling bins are not an option.
Typically, such facilities accept only clean, expanded polystyrene foam packaging materials like those commonly found in food product containers or protective packaging. To find the nearest facility near you, research online or call your local recycling center to confirm that your foam packaging is recyclable.
No matter what location or option you decide is best, check the recycling codes on the styrofoam packaging to confirm if it is acceptable. Styrofoam packaging can include Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene Foam (EFS). Each requires different recycling methods.
EPS packaging usually has an “X6” recycle code, which can be sent to a facility for reclamation, while EFS packaging has a recycle code of “NP6.” Knowing how to dispose of styrofoam packaging according to the code is key to ensuring it ends up in the right place.
2. Use for Drainage in Potted Plants
Another great way to recycle foam packaging is to use it as a drainage layer in non-edible potted plants or seedlings. Foam is an effective and inexpensive alternative drainage solution for potted plants that prevents excess moisture from causing root rot.
Typically, gardeners use pebbles or gravel, which causes potted plants to become much heavier and harder to work with when repotting. Styrofoam, on the other hand, is very lightweight and a great way to create space between seedlings and plants.
To implement this method, poke a few holes in the bottom and cover the foam with soil. For larger plants, break the styrofoam packaging into chunks to fill the bottom of the pot or cut out pieces that fit into the plant space, then cover them with potting mix.
While styrofoam is lightweight and beneficial to gardening, you must remember to use it for non-edible plants only. If you recycle foam packaging in this manner for edible plants, the food produced will become contaminated.
3. Combine with Acetone to Make Glue
Creating your glue at home using acetone is not just a great way for how to dispose of styrofoam packaging. It is also surprisingly effective and inexpensive. To make a batch of this DIY adhesive, soak styrofoam pieces in acetone for up to three minutes before removing them and allowing them to dry.
This simple process creates a glue that bonds most porous materials, such as cardstock, craft foam, paper, and wood. Although it might take a bit of experimenting, the time spent creating this homemade glue will allow you to dispose of styrofoam whenever needed.
As with any DIY project that involves chemicals, there are some precautions you need to take. Be sure you have safety glasses, masks, gloves, and a well-ventilated area before you recycle your foam packaging using this method.
Acetone is flammable and has fumes that irritate the eyes, nose, and lungs. Never store it near flame or heat sources, and keep it sealed when not in use. Styrofoam packaging takes centuries to decompose. So, instead of throwing it away, recycle it by making a versatile adhesive.
4. Turn Blocks of Foam into Packing Materials
Businesses, breweries, and wineries looking for a sustainable way to recycle their foam packaging should consider investing in a shredder. This device can turn styrofoam blocks into packing material quickly and efficiently for repurposing.
They are an incredibly cost-effective solution and help reduce the volume of waste businesses produce. Offices, warehouses, and retail stores are just a few establishments that could benefit from these approaches while protecting the environment.
For smaller batches, blenders are an effective tool for turning styrofoam into usable packaging material. Start by breaking the styrofoam into smaller, more manageable blocks that you can easily fit into the blender. You can use foam cutters, utility knives, or scissors to make any desired shapes for your packing material. Next, select the pulse option on your blender, and turn it off and on enough times to produce the size you need.
It’s up to you how you decide to dispose of styrofoam packaging. However, this is the only option that utilizes an appliance many people already have at home.
5. Use for Insulation
For anyone looking to recycle their foam packaging materials, insulating garages, attics, dog houses, and tool sheds is a great way to recycle and save. Styrofoam isn’t affected by extreme temperatures, so it’s a reliable insulation that works well in homes and outdoor enclosures.
It also provides extra durability and is resistant to insects and rodents. Before applying, treat your styrofoam with a fire-retardant solution. Exposed foam is an ideal fuel source during accidental fires, so fire-proofing your materials is mandatory.
If you recycle enough styrofoam packaging pieces, you can create effective insulation that will insulate well and is cost-effective. Always use the correct technique or hire a professional to apply recycled styrofoam packaging for maximum effect.
Expertise is critical, especially if you don’t know how to install or dispose of styrofoam packaging in an eco-friendly manner. In addition, if excess foam insulation is left over after you have insulated the given area correctly, it’s best to dispose of it properly at your local recycling center.
6. Build Styrofoam Floating Islands for Ponds
Constructing styrofoam floating islands is an innovative and eco-friendly solution to recycle foam packaging and foster a thriving ecosystem. These unique creations not only repurpose packaging waste from household or computer items but also provide a welcoming habitat for aquatic life.
With DIY islands in your pond, you can experience several benefits while wowing guests and friends. From attracting wildlife and offering shelter for fish to promoting lush plant growth and effective water filtration, these islands contribute to the overall health and quality of your pond.
Transforming molded styrofoam blocks into functional floating islands is a straightforward process. By poking holes in the bottom and applying marine paint to prevent waterlogging, you can turn these materials into floating platforms that blend seamlessly with your pond decor.
The result? A more vibrant and dynamic pond environment, with an influx of birds and aquatic creatures drawn to this newfound habitat. So, while addressing the issue of how to dispose of styrofoam packaging, you can simultaneously impact your pond ecosystem and water quality and create a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.
7. Create Foam Ornaments for Holidays
Creating foam holiday ornaments is a great way to add a personal touch to your seasonal decor while being environmentally conscious. Instead of discarding styrofoam packaging, why not repurpose it into unique and customizable holiday ornaments?
This family-friendly activity allows you to unleash your creativity by cutting festive shapes from styrofoam or using food containers for better results. Add intricate designs to the front using a pencil or similar tool, giving each ornament its unique flair.
Paint them in vibrant holiday colors and enhance their sparkle with glitter glue using paint brushes. To hang them on your tree or around your home, poke a hole through the top and attach a festive ribbon. When you recycle foam packaging with loved ones, you spark joy in little hearts and minds.
Not only are you encouraging bonding, but also introducing a fun way to reduce waste to younger generations. How you choose to dispose of styrofoam packaging can kick the spirit of the holidays into high gear and showcase your style and compassion for the environment.
8. Repurpose Styrofoam for DIY Home Decor
Creating DIY home decor may be one method to recycle foam packaging that never crossed your mind. However, doing so reduces waste, reveals your artistic side, and breathes new life into home improvement projects.
You can transform plain styrofoam sheets into stunning wall art and create visually appealing decorative pieces that enhance the aesthetics of your living spaces. Another idea is to carve intricate patterns and apply a faux finish to turn styrofoam into breathtakingly simplistic wall tiles or incorporate it into furniture projects like ottomans and headboards for an eco-friendly touch.
Lightweight decor elements like styrofoam wall shelves or party centerpieces are easy to craft. Not only does repurposing styrofoam for DIY home decor exemplify outside-the-box thinking, but it also offers an affordable way to beautify your home with little or no investment.
With proper preparation and a few maintenance tips, you can create durable furniture and art that lasts for years, all while responsibly addressing the challenge of how to dispose of styrofoam packaging. Never be afraid to explore the corners of your mind. Your creativity will transform your home with a sustainable style.
Shop Sustainable Packaging at Gorilla Shipper
Well, there you have it. If you were unaware that there were effective methods to recycle foam packaging, now you have eight viable options you can implement to avoid excess waste.
If the ultimate goal is to use more eco-friendly packaging, Gorilla Shipper offers durable, biodegradable products such as our Hexabox and molded pulp shipper kits for bottles, jars, and cans. We make our shipper kits from recyclable materials and consider sustainability to be of the utmost importance.
If you need more information or have shipping concerns, contact us with any questions. Thanks for reading!