We like to recycle everything possible. What can be done with "Styrofoam"?
If you’re recycling as much as you can, it's likely you’ve already found that your local waste hauler doesn’t accept foamed polystyrene. Foamed polystyrene, sometimes incorrectly referred to generically by the brand name Styrofoam, is marked as plastic number 6 on items like foam cups and take-out containers.
Fun Fact: The trademarked name Styrofoam, owned by The Dow Chemical Company, actually refers to a unique kind of polystyrene, which is extruded instead of expanded. Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is designed to be used in building materials and is not found in consumer foam cups or take-out containers.
But many people still use the name to refer to expanded polystyrene (EPS). EPS has gained a notoriously bad environmental reputation because very few recycling programs accept it and it can sit in a landfill for centuries — facts that are especially problematic when Americans throw away millions of polystyrene cups away every year. Some cities, including New York City, have voted to ban polystyrene containers, and more are considering similar bans.
Check online to see if you live near one of the few facilities that do accept polystyrene for recycling. If you do, make sure your materials are clean and dry before dropping them off. If your polystyrene is in the form of packing material (like packing peanuts), you may be able to drop them off at certain shipping retail locations for reuse. You could also reuse the packing peanuts yourself next time you ship something. When it comes to polystyrene, your best bet is to avoid it in the first place!