Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, can’t be recycled at your home or office as this material must be segregated and requires special handling.
Choose Recyclable or Compostable Alternatives
As consumers, we can vote with our dollar and show businesses what we value. Choosing environmentally-friendly products is one way to show that we care about the health of our community and environment. Always choose recyclable or compostable alternatives instead of using polystyrene foam products when possible. While Newby Island does recycle polystyrene foam items, it’s one of the few places that does so. Keep in mind that recycled polystyrene has very little market value and can only be used to make a small range of products, most of which can’t be recycled themselves. Many jurisdictions have banned expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food service ware (e.g., takeout clamshells and Styrofoam water cups). Many more jurisdictions are looking to adopt policies to ban it. Why?
- There are no viable, cost-effective markets available for this material;
- It is difficult and uneconomical to handle and recycle, especially if soiled by food;
- It usually ends up in landfills, where it essentially does not biodegrade;
- A substantial amount is found as harmful litter in storm drains and local waterways due to its lightweight, easily airborne characteristics;
- Because it easily breaks down into smaller pieces, it’s not only difficult to clean up, but is also mistaken for food and ingested by birds and marine wildlife (which contaminates the food chain, including humans who consume contaminated marine wildlife);
- Styrene, a synthetic chemical from which foam food and beverage containers are made, has long been a cancer-suspect agent. On April 22, 2016, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added styrene to the list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer. This listing was based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) that styrene causes cancer.
Replacing polystyrene products with less-hazardous, compostable, or readily recyclable products will protect the public health and safety of Milpitas residents, as well as our environment, waterways and wildlife. Acceptable alternatives include compostable/recyclable paper, cardboard, molded or rigid pulp or plastic products and certified compostable “starch peanuts/loose fill/foam.” Shop wisely and show businesses what you value!