Styrofoam boxes in a landfill

Top 5 Ways to Recycle Styrofoam 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 five ways to recycle styrofoam packaging to protect our environment.

#1 – Find a Foam Recycling Facility

Many recycling facilities are available to help recycle styrofoam 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 both Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene Foam (EFS) and require 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

Daisies in a recycled styrofoam packaging box

Another great way to recycle styrofoam 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 styrofoam 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 styrofoam 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

Man holding a cup full of foam peanuts

Businesses, breweries, and wineries looking for a sustainable way to recycle their styrofoam 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 packing 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 styrofoam 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 techniques 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.

Shop Sustainable Packaging at Gorilla Shipper

Well, there you have it. If you were unaware that there were effective methods to recycle styrofoam packaging, now you have five 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 designs. We make our shipper kits and boxes from 100% post-consumer waste 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!