Styrofoam: It’s Effects On Us And Our
Rec & Environmental Quality
Professor: Pamela Heise
By: Shannon Graham
& Sabrena Csizmadi
What is Styrofoam?
• It was invented in 1938, It’s generic name is Polystyrene.
• It is petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer.
• Dow Chemical is it’s creator; the one who brought us zip lock bags and bleach.
• It has excellent insulating properties that keep hot products hot and cold products
cold much longer than disposable paper cups and boxes.
• Styrofoam is one of the first modern pollutants that is considered a necessity of
everyday commerce and agriculture.
• It pollutes us and the earth, but these effects are not perceptible unless you visit a
landfill or a polluted riverfront or beach front.
• Styrofoam has many useful purposes, but the consequences of its use should be
• Mississauga, Ontario in Canada had a Styrofoam recycling plant
from 1991-2008, was owned and operated by Canadian
Polystyrene Recycling Association (CPRA). Forced to close
• Our nation averages 547, 945 tons of garbage per day and
Styrofoam products makes up 0.25% this equals 1,369 tons.
• It costs the one recycling entity $3,320 per ton, Styrofoam waste
takes up 25-30% of our nations land fill space.
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says “That of the 3 million tons of polystyrene
produced in the U.S., 2.3 million tons end up in landfills, with much of the remainder
finding its way into waterways.”
• French ministry of ecology and sustainable development, “more than 14 million
tons of polystyrene are produced every year around the world”.
• North Americans throw away 60 billion cups, 20 billion eating utensils and 25 billion
Styrofoam plates year. It is said that landfill mass could be reduced by 30% if society
took biodegradable options seriously.
• About 30 municipalities in California and 14 cities from San Francisco to Portland,
Oragon have ban Styrofoam to date.
How does it effect our
• Farmers rely on Styrofoam to protect
their produce, meat and eggs from
bruising, breaking and rotting during its
travels to the grocery stores.
• Styrofoam protects and preserves
• Some people even prefer it for
• It ends up in our landfills eventually
breaking down creating greenhouse
• Grocery stores like Loblaw's use
Styrofoam trays to place meat, eggs
and vegetables on.
• The more people who become aware
of the dangers of Styrofoam packaged
foods, the less these brands who use
Styrofoam will be purchased.
How does it effect our
• In 1991 the Louisiana Agricultural
Experiment Station detected volatile
styrene monomers in shell eggs
stored in Styrofoam
• Egg dishes cooked with these
contaminated eggs contained seven
times more benzene and styrene
• It is suspected that the volatile
compounds can migrate through the
porous shells into the edible portions
of the eggs.
• Styrofoam is convenient packaging
for farmers products, but in the end
its piling up in the landfills and
running off into surrounding waters
and farm lands causing a negative
effect to live stocks and crops.
Styrofoam and our Environment:
• When Styrofoam sits in landfills, it captures water causing garbage to soak until it’s a soup
• You can recycle Styrofoam, like you can plastic, but it is difficult to do
• Styrofoam is generally not recycled but is just thrown into landfills and new Styrofoam is
produced to meet demands.
• Due to cost of recycling polystyrene and the lack of value in it at this time there is little
infrastructure in place to recycle the large amounts of polystyrene created annually.
Industrial/What its used for:
• Coffee cups, disposable plates and takeout containers.
• Packaging delicate materials
• Construction companies for installation
•. Put in items like refrigerators, freezers , coolers, bean bag chairs etc.
Today almost 40% of the energy we consume globally is used by the building sector. This energy is used
in buildings to heat and cool the places we live, work, learn and play. If buildings are poorly insulated,
this energy is lost. Styrofoam is a solution that dramatically reduces this energy loss from buildings,
saving more than 10 billion dollars in energy costs annually. http://building.dow.com/
• Styrofoam also has a negative effect on our
• Choking hazard for children and animals,
since it can be broken into small pieces so
• Wildlife can wander into landfills and eat it
resulting in them choking, clogging their
digestive system and becoming sick.
• Resulting in reduced population.
• If more space is needed for landfills to
discard Styrofoam, animals will lose valuable
• Also has a negative effect on marine life
Social and Cultural Effects:
• Styrofoam is harmful to humans health.
• Contains chemicals that over time and continuous exposure can build in the body and cause many
• Styrofoam cups apparently lose weight during the time they are at use. (because chemicals leach into
• One U.S EPA study of human fat biopsies found styrene residue in every single sample.
• Styrene is easily transferred from a container to your food or beverage; and the hotter or fattier the
food, the more styrene is absorbed.
• Benzene is another toxic chemical component of Styrofoam. It can enter the human body either
through the skin or respiratory system.
• The largest health concern with polystyrene
is the dangers associated with styrene; the
building block of Styrofoam.
• Styrene causes cancer in animals, but it has
not yet been proven to cause cancer in
• Styrene attacks the central and peripheral
• Its correlated with acute or chronic
functional impairment of the nervous system.
• People the food and drug administration
(FDA), would not allow a health threatening
product to be marketed to the public.
Effects on Recreation:
• Out door recreational activities tend to
produce Styrofoam debris.
• Choosing not to use that Styrofoam
products and cleaning up next time you’re
out camping, at a B.B.Q, picnic, etc. could
save help our recreational environments.
• If the environmental quality of the areas we
use for recreational activities decline, people
will lose interest and stop participating, for a
number of different reasons.
• Major reasons being health and safety
• People may no longer participate in, or
around the affected grounds or bodies of
• People may lose interest in their
recreational activity because the
environment has lost the appeal it once had
Do Your Part!
• Buy eggs in recycled paper cartons
• Buy meat in plastic bags or cardboard
• Use travel coffee mugs and other portable
•Refuse to purchase things when you see
they use Styrofoam
•Educate others about what you now know
• Trellis Earth bioplastic
• corn and vegetable-starch based
• 100% biodegradable and
Help keep our world beautiful!
• compost at a rate of 90% in 90 days
and a rate of 100% in 180 days
• FDA certified
• Santa Barbara, California
• resin is used from potato starches,
French fry wastes, limestone, post-
consumer fibre, air, water and
protective coatings, making their
Make Earth Day Everyday!
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