Reducing environmental pollutants is an excellent way of making the world safer for future generations. One of the most dangerous forms of plastics that we should be aware of is Styrofoam. It is not, however, possible to avoid the use of this plastic since it is found in most of the items we use every day.
We can, however, protect our environment from its effects through Styrofoam recycling. Green citizen has made it possible for residents of San Francisco to recycle this material safely. They encourage everyone in the Bay Area to bring such plastics to them for recycling. It is an excellent initiative that we should all take seriously due to the effect of Styrofoam on the environment.
What is Styrofoam?
It is a petroleum-based plastic that is made up of different chemical compounds. Recycling Styrofoam is not easy since it is considered as one of the hardest plastics that exists. Styrofoam is usually referred to as expanded polystyrene. Most of the plastic products that we use for our refreshments and food items contain Styrofoam.
Due to the structure of Styrofoam, this product is not sinkable. It does not degrade or break down like other components. For it to be destroyed, Styrofoam has to be subjected to extreme temperatures. If this material is subjected to normal fire, it releases some harmful pollutants to the environment, such as carbon monoxide.
The negative impacts of Styrofoam
Exposure to the chemical compounds of Styrofoam can have adverse effects on humans and other living organisms. In humans, styrene, which is contained in Styrofoam, can lead to skin irritation, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tract problems.
It also affects the environment since it is a non-biodegradable product. Research reveals that Styrofoam can take up to 500 years to decompose. When this substance is used to carry food products, it produces some toxic chemicals and contaminates the food leading to health complications. You should, therefore, avoid heating food in such plastics.
The substance has been known to create some harmful air pollutants. It contributes to global warming effects since it depletes the ozone layer. Styrofoam also contaminates landfills and leads to the accumulation of more waste on our land. It is, therefore, a significant threat to our ecological system. A study shows that tons of Styrofoam gets buried in American landfills every day. More than 20% of landfill space is Styrofoam alone. Some regions have started banning the use of such plastics to reduce their impact on the environment.
Animals are also not spared from this type of plastic. Those that get food from such landfills end up dead before their time. It is because Styrofoam products break down into pieces that can be swallowed with ease. Such animals are at risk of choking from the small pieces.
Conclusion: What is the solution?
Though Styrofoam is a threat to our community, we can save our land by Styrofoam recycling. Styrofoam pellets can easily be reused to make other substances. A better alternative would be picking eco-friendly products rather than relying on Styrofoam all the time. Some of the food industries have introduced some eco-friendly packaging products like air cushions. These can minimize pollution in the environment and conserve landfill space. Recycling Styrofoam should also be our priority.