This is where you have to distinguish styrofoam (EPS) from polystyrene. ), as well as red wine and some oily foods. Properties of Glass, Foam and Plastic. It is one of the largest volume commodity plastic, comprising approximately seven percent of the total thermoplastic market1. Foam cups trace their roots to the Koppers Company, which in 1970 filed a patent for a plastic foam cup with walls that do not exceed twice the diameter of the foamed beads used to compose it. Styrene can leach from cups and containers into hot drinks and food and bleed into alcohol or high-fat drinks and foods in particular. Polyethylene was first synthesized by scientists Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett in 1933 when they reacted ethylene with benzaldehyde under extreme heat and pressure. Most cities will take them. The AP Stylebook settles for “plastic foam.”. There, they may be consumed by fish and other marine and aquatic animals, who easily mistake them for food. The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research pinpointed nearly 60 chemical byproducts released into the air during the burning of polystyrene foam at landfills and other waste disposal centers. Polystyrene (PS) / ˌ p ɒ l i ˈ s t aɪ r iː n / is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer made from the monomer known as styrene. These expanded cells may then be formed and bonded into useful shapes. It is a light-weight material, about 95% air with very good insulation properties. This prevents heat loss, making Styrofoam an excellent insulator. Remember that as foam it has been expanded 40-to-80 times its original volume. It is true that the vast majority of municipal recycling programs will not accept it. SEJournal Online is the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists. City council members unanimously passed a resolution Thursday supporting the restriction. The same goes for a cold cup of custard of an icy drink on a hot day. These dense, hard beads are softened by heat and expanded using things like steam and blowing agents, becoming much larger and less dense beads. It does not biodegrade. PS is made of foam material and is termed as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) which is known for its insulating and cushioning properties. Disposable, translucent polystyrene, resistant to diluted or weak acids, alcohols and bases Usable to 200°F, with four-way pour spouts Smaller sizes suitable for use as sampling cup for atomic absorption units, flame photometers and blood cell counters. Recycling operations can’t handle the contaminated waste. Learn more about SEJournal Online, including submission, subscription and advertising information. One of the main reasons polystyrene is considered a great materiel is that it is moisture resistant, this makes polystyrene a great packaging material. In manufacturing, polystyrene usually starts as small beads. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) – PET is known for its ability to be easily ther… There are many solutions that have been proposed for reducing plastic emissions int… Available in eight sizes and offered in translucent and black. It is rigid, but when heated to 100 Celsius, it becomes a flowing liquid. It insulates; that is, it slows heat transmission. There’s also acid (lemon in your tea? Researchers have linked chronic exposure to even small amounts of the styrene in polystyrene foam to depression and hormonal dysfunction. 15. Polystyrene Cups We offer a range of polystyrene cups which are ideal for hot or cold drinks as the insulating properties of the polystyrene help the drink to remain at the serving temperature whilst staying rigid and comfortable to hold. A second important reason is that nobody can make any money recycling styrofoam. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Plus, the paper cup uses wood pulp. See reviews, photos, directions, phone numbers and more for the best Plastics-Fabrics, Film, Sheets, Rods, Etc-Producers in Tampa, FL. We love a radio-video piece by Jacob Fenston and Tyrone Turner of WAMU, who showed that styrofoam egg cartons are not necessarily better at protecting eggs. But styrene, the chemical building block of polystyrene foam, is linked to an array of health problems. Cells from broken-down styrofoam find their way into streams, lakes and oceans. This month’s Backgrounder gives this long-troubling pollution source a deeper look. And microwaving your styrofoam may be iffy. While it's not the styrofoam cup many loyal customers have become accustomed to over the years, the new paper version offers the same heat retention properties, according to … Potential releases of styrene and its precursors during manufacture could also present problems. Styrofoam may be good for keeping coffee hot, but it is also good for stirring up political controversy. Styrofoam is a brand of polystyrene insulation that is used in the construction of buildings. Polystyrene was discovered way back in 1839, was manufactured starting in the 1930s, then was first foamed in the 1940s, and first sold as coffee cups in the 1960s. Polystyrene insulation is inert, durable and resistant to water damage. When ordering takeout or bringing home leftovers from a restaurant, immediately transfer beverages and foods from polystyrene containers into glass or ceramic cups and dishes. This is what makes it useful for commercial products. Simply put, it gets into the ocean and other environmental realms, and it does not go away for a very, very long time. SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment, SEJ Regional Conferences, Meet-Ups and Webinars, SEJ Bylaws, Policies, Agreements and Guidelines, Sign Up for SEJ Discussion Listservs (members only), consumed by fish and other marine and aquatic animals, Styrofoam Facts — Why You May Want To Bring Your Own Cup. Heat and hot liquids may be a problem. You must have JavaScript enabled to use this form. Polystyrene can be solid or foamed. The manufacturing process also releases into the air hydrocarbons, which sink to ground level and mix with atmospheric nitrogen oxides to produce tropospheric ozone, a major air pollutant that can cause chest pain, coughing, wheezing and pulmonary congestion in people exercising outside. Consumers who drink beverages from polystyrene cups four times a day for three years will have ingested about one foam cup's worth of styrene along with those beverages. K) at 10 °C. This is not good for the sea creatures (they may choke or starve), nor for the creatures who consume them — which may ultimately include us humans. It can also help keep interior noises from leaking out, which proves valuable to the recording musician or private business meeting. Leak resistant lids securely hold side dishes and condiments during transport, reducing the risk of spills. A lot of styrofoam waste does go into landfills (better than the ocean, but hardly great). Polystyrene_Cup -1 points 0 points 1 point 11 months ago I was in a town recently where 3 teens robbed a camper of his rifles on horseback, The kids got caught and got a bashing from the people in town and that was the end of it. Polystyrene foam, better known under the trademarked name Styrofoam, is the material of choice for many coffee cups and takeout containers used in restaurants. Polystyrene foam production generates mountains of liquid and solid waste. A consumer can test out the superior insulating properties of Styrofoam when getting hot coffee in a Styrofoam cup. : Andrew Moreton, Flickr Creative Commons. Polystyrene is the name for a whole family of plastics, and in various forms they are used for many other things than foam. It is an inexpensive resin per unit weight. Polystyrene foam, better known under the trademarked name Styrofoam, is the material of choice for many coffee cups and takeout containers used in restaurants. Studies indicate that styrene mimics estrogen and can interfere with hormone balances, potentially causing thyroid trouble and menstrual irregularities. Styrofoam takes up a lot of room per unit of weight. More recently, their effects on the ozone layer or global warming have prompted a shift to substitutes. * From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. Some of the other reasons polystyrene is considered great materiel are: Generally, exposure to polystyrene cups and containers won’t be enough to cause acute symptoms in consumers, but people who live near polystyrene container plants or who work in polystyrene factories can develop side effects from contact with the substance. What’s more, polystyrene cups and containers comprise 25 to 30 percent of all landfill volume in the U.S.; dumped into the countryside as litter, the foam degrades into pieces that can choke wildlife and obstruct their digestive tracts. Styrofoam is not exactly a, um, health food either. Worse yet, it disassembles into its component little cells, which float away and can be consumed by aquatic and marine creatures. There is much for people (and journalists) to understand about the technical and environmental aspects of the plastic. But there are a few facilities that will take it. Climate for Action: Choosing an Alternative to Polystyrene. Styrene can accumulate in the tissues of the brain, spinal cord and nerves and can yield fatigue, nervousness and sleeping problems. Polystyrene Portion Cups are perfect for dining-in or carryout applications. Blood disorders, including low platelet counts or hemoglobin values, have been linked to long-term styrene exposure as have chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities. Record your observations. General-purpose polystyrene is clear, hard, and rather brittle. Polystyrene foam's light weight and insulation properties also make it a favorite choice for cups, plates and bowls at family picnics. It may still be a problem there. Of course, some fraction of all discarded styrofoam does not go into landfills. Despite its advantageous properties, polystyrene is brittle and flammable; it also softens in boiling water and, without the addition of chemical stabilizers, yellows upon prolonged exposure to sunlight. A lot of that is just littered around the landscape, and a lot of that ends up in water. A study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking shows that making a paper cup uses as much petroleum or natural gas as a polystyrene cup. The foam dishes can melt in the microwave and hasten the styrene flow into your food and drink. Styrofoam does not degrade or break down over time. Knowing the characteristics of the material is helpful in deciding whether styrofoam is the most suitable insulation material for your project. At best, its properties are sound resistant. Drop in your Styrofoam cup or packing peanuts. Some estimate that fraction at 20 percent, at least in the United States. Polystyrene (PS) is a clear, amorphous, nonpolar commodity thermoplastic that is easy to process and that can be easily converted into a large number of semi-finished products like foams, films, and sheets. It is not dissolved by common liquids like water, serving as a barrier. Because of the amount of air in its structure, Styrofoam is considered to be unsinkable and capable of maintaining its form. Technical and legal sticklers may prefer the term expanded polystyrene, or EPS. Some scientists have linked styrene to cancers of the breast and prostate. One reason is that most styrofoam waste (think carryout food containers) is not clean and cannot be easily cleaned. Portion Cups Polystyrene Portion Cups. All Rights Reserved. Its long hydrocarbon chain has phenyl groups attached to every other carbon atom in polystyrene. At home or in the office, swap out polystyrene cups, plates and bowls with ceramic alternatives. There are also a number of solvents (e.g., acetone nail polish remover and gasoline) that can break down polystyrene. Polystyrene foam's light weight and insulation properties also make it a favorite choice for cups, plates and bowls at family picnics. He writes SEJournal Online's Issue Backgrounders and TipSheet columns, directs SEJ's WatchDog Project and writes WatchDog Tipsheet and also compiles SEJ's daily news headlines, EJToday. Polystyrene was discovered way back in 1839, was manufactured starting in the 1930s, then was first foamed in the 1940s, and first sold as coffee cups in the 1960s. Some of the sound can still penetrate the foam, and so it would be inaccurate to call Styrofoam soundproof. And then when cooled again to room temperature, it becomes solid. They are available in a range of sizes from 8 to 14oz and with sip through lids available for each size. Depending on the application it is used for, Polystyrene's properties will change. Polystyrene has a number of properties: it has a low melting point, it is translucent before tint is added, and it is hard and brittle. A Web Experience brought to you by LEAFtv, Grinning Planet; Clouds in Your Coffee?? So let’s imagine that your foam coffee cup goes into a trash can and ends up buried in a legally permitted municipal landfill. Plastic drink containers, such as soda bottles, are commonly made of Polyethylene Terephthalate Polyester (PET). Another environmental issue may arise from the blowing agents used to foam EPS. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. One issue is volume. So it may be great for boiling hot coffee, picnic coolers, bicycle helmets, home insulation, packing materials, restaurant carry-out containers and egg cartons. ASTM C578 Standard Specification for Rigid Cellular Polystyrene Thermal Insulation addresses the physical properties and performance characteristics of EPS foam as it relates to thermal insulation in construction applications. Styrene toxicity may be much greater for people exposed occupationally or via air pollution. This is not to say that styrofoam is the only, or the best, material for these applications. This versatility was one of the defining traits of polyethylene. During expansion, the beads become skinned cells that may be as little as 3 percent as heavy as the original bead, with most of the volume being gas. Various gases have been used to blow it up into foam form. In the morning, you should find a glassy, relatively dense (compared to Styrofoam), polystyrene sculpture. The product has manufactured by Dow Building Solutions since the 1940s. Polystyrenes. This foam had excellent insulation properties, and it was adopted as the material of choice for dispensing hot drinks. Lightweight polystyrene foam provides excellent thermal insulation in numerous applications, such as building walls and roofing, refrigerators and freezers, and industrial cold storage facilities. The Canadian study said, ‘ The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup.’ Plus, for the latest developments, explore recent headlines on styrofoam and read this TipSheet. Why, then, is styrofoam of environmental concern? Will use of styrofoam expose you to styrene in worrisome amounts? That’s because many of the things that make styrofoam good for consumers and commerce also make it bad for the environment. If your kid swallowed a piece of it, it probably would not hurt them, as long as it passed through. Styrofoam Sheets in Tampa on YP.com. How many cups of coffee or microwaved noodles in polystyrene cups have you consumed? © 2021 The Society of Environmental Journalists. An important property of extruded polystyrene is its buoyancy or ability to float in water. This makes it the perfect choice for making floating boards. A 1986 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found styrene residues, however infinitesimal, in 100 percent of the human fat tissue samples taken. Various gases have been used to blow it up into foam form. Once in the landfill, it does not decompose quickly. I remember all throughout school, all the plates and cups in the cafeteria were polystyrene. This ubiquitous waste material has great insulating properties. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. Polystyrene is a plastic — meaning that when it is heated, it takes a liquid form that can be molded, shaped or extruded. What Are the Dangers of Plastic Crock Pot Liners? This backgrounder will focus on the foam forms, since they have disproportional environmental impact. Polystyrene in Medical Will Liquid Retain Its Temperature Better in Glass, Foam or Plastic. Plastic debris has become an issue of concern for marine and freshwater habitats globally (Kershaw and Rochman, 2015; Löhr et al., 2017). Short-term symptoms of excessive exposure to styrene can include irritation of the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract as well as gastrointestinal distress. Ordinary hard, unexpanded, polystyrene is common in commercial use — an example may be that yogurt or sour cream container in your refrigerator. It absorbs shock. Polystyrene is made out of the monomer styrene. But styrofoam is notoriously hard to recycle, and is not accepted by most municipal recycling programs. It is common wisdom that styrofoam can not be recycled, which is not true in a very technical sense. First, we are duty-bound to warn you that “Styrofoam“ is, legally, a trademarked name for a particular Dow product typically used as a building material. Tampa takes step forward in restricting single-use plastics, Styrofoam on city properties. That’s the question. But the styrene monomer from which it is made is suspected of causing cancer and other health problems, and miniscule amounts of styrene could leach into your hot coffee. The term polystyrene refers to a polymer (long chain molecule) of the monomer (smaller molecule) styrene. Polystyrene homo-polymer, also known commercially as crystal polystyrene, is an amorphous polymer and has the particular properties of high clarity, colourless, hard, but rather brittle with low impact strength. Polystyrene foams such as Styrofoam can help muffle and reduce the presence of any noises from outside the immediate room or environment. Never microwave food in polystyrene containers. The claimed R-value of Styrofoam is R-5 per inch. But certain conditions cause polystyrene to break down chemically and possibly leach styrene. If plastic- or foam-stored food is the only option, buy the largest size so that the food’s surface contact with the container is limited. Clean these and recycle them. About the Author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. A lot of landfills are running out of room. In finished form, EPS has a number of useful properties. Polystyrene (also known as EPS Foam or Styrofoam) is a highly popular plastic packaging material which finds wide application in packaging of food items, electronic goods, electrical appliances, furniture etc due to its excellent insulating and protective properties. (GPPS, HIPS, EPS, SBR, SBS, ABS) Properties. Some estimates put the lifespan of styrofoam in a landfill around 500 years, and some put it way beyond that. But styrene, the chemical building block of polystyrene foam, is linked to an array of health problems. At the grocery store, buy food stored on shelves in glass containers, rather than plastic or foam jars and bottles. The resulting polymer could be formed into sheets and rods, or drawn into fibers and films. In the past, some fluorinated hydrocarbon gases were used because of their stability. It will have the triangular recyclable logo on it and the number 6, meaning polystyrene. Graduations on 150 mL and larger,… Related Products: Disposable Sample Cups Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from styrene monomers. But the word styrofoam is widely used in conversation and media when referring to expanded polystyrene foam — which you may use in that disposable cup or as “peanuts” to pack fragile things for shipping. Joseph A. Davis is a freelance writer/editor in Washington, D.C. who has been writing about the environment since 1976. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tabbed polystyrene manufacturing as the nation’s number five creator of hazardous waste. Today, polyethylene is commonly manufactured in several different forms with vastly different properties: 1. The term polystyrene refers to a polymer (long chain molecule) of the monomer (smaller molecule) styrene. Foam drinking containers are made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), a form of polystyrene plastic filled with tiny air bubbles. Once dissolved, you can transfer the semi-solid polystyrene to a disposable aluminum tray or pie pan, shape it as you wish, and allow it to dry overnight. 4, No. The amorphous nature and other properties, which arise from the aromatic The material can also be put into a foamed state. Plastic items of many types, whole and fragmented, are found on beaches (Browne et al., 2015), floating on the surfaces of oceans (van Sebille et al., 2015) and lakes (Eriksen et al., 2013), in the deep sea (Woodall et al., 2014), and in a great diversity of wildlife (Gall and Thompson, 2015). Celsius, it becomes a flowing liquid that can break down over time or plastic an insulator. 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Any money recycling styrofoam water damage to 100 Celsius, it does not go into landfills members., plates and bowls at family picnics and resistant to water damage is available to the recording or. Away and can interfere with hormone balances, potentially causing thyroid trouble and irregularities!