Styrofoam Blocks, Food Trays, Chips and Containers
Polystyrene is the chemical name for Styrofoam, a brand name trademarked by the Dow chemical company. Polystyrene comes in two forms: foamed and non foamed. The foamed form is used as packing material for electronics, or as meat trays or insulation. In its non-foamed state, polystyrene is used to make disposable cutlery, CD and DVD cases and other hard plastic casings. Polystyrene is flammable and contains a multitude of harmful chemicals, making it one of the most challenging items to recycle or reuse.
How do I go green?
To reduce your consumption of polystyrene, try to purchase products that come with little or no packaging or in greener packaging materials, such as molded paper blocks, corn based food trays, aluminum trays or foil. Bring you own re-useable container for take out. Use recycled newspaper or egg cartons to pack breakables when moving or mailing packages. Encourage your local grocery store to replace Styrofoam meat trays with biodegradable trays made from corn or paper.
Crumbled polystyrene foam can be used in the bottoms of your planter pots to increase drainage. Save large or small chunks of polystyrene for packaging when shipping. Investigate schools or craft shops that may wish to use the material in art projects. Styrofoam packing chips can also be returned to some courier companies for reuse.
Recycled foamed polystyrene can be added to products, such as clothes hangers, toys, flower pots, park benches and decking. It can also be combined with cement to act as an insulating element in concrete foundations. Foamed polystyrene is recyclable, but facilities are limited and markets are inconsistent. Incineration as a power source is also an option, though this produces carbon dioxide, benzenes and carbon monoxide, which must be removed before being emitted into the air. Check the Recyclopedia’s listing to find a depot that accepts polystyrene materials.
Look out for the corn plastics- these are compostable, not recyclable and will contaminate the plastic recycling process.
Styrofoam is not accepted in the curbside Blue Box program.
Important Note: The facilities listed below may only accept certain types of Styrofoam and may have quantity limits and fees. To ensure the facility will accept your Styrofoam for recycling, contact them directly to confirm.
Enter at 524 David Street
Hartland Recycling Facility
# 1 Hartland Avenue
Mayne Island Recycling Depot
390 Campbell Bay Road
Oak Bay Green Committee / Carnarvon Park Recycling Depot
reFUSE (Commercial and Residential)
2111 Government Street
Salt Spring Island Recycling Depot
349 Rainbow Road
Salt Spring Island
South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association Plastic Re-Cycle
1625 Bank Street
The UPS Store - Hillside Avenue (packing chips only)
1581-H Hillside Avenue
The UPS Store - Wilson Street (packing chips only)
110 - 174 Wilson Street
The Environmental Story
Do not burn Styrofoam or polystyrene. It is made using benzene, a known human carcinogen. Benzene is released into the air if the polystyrene is burned.
Polystyrene makes up a significant part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a slowly rotating collection of plastic in the centre of the North Pacific Ocean Gyre. There are 3.3 million pieces of plastic per square kilometer in the garbage patch. Over 8 billion kilograms of plastic ends up in our oceans each year, much of it polystyrene. These plastics don’t biodegrade, but rather break into increasingly smaller pieces, which can cause harm or death to sea birds, fish, turtles and other marine life.
Using as little polystyrene as possible, and recycling what you do acquire in a responsible manner, is one of the best things you can do for the health of our marine and terrestrial ecosystems.