Friday, March 05, 2004

Styrofoam recycling

Disposing of large amounts of styrofoam is a real pain. While there's some packaging stores that will take clean styrofoam peanuts, it's a challenge to dispose of large styrofoam blocks.

Most attempts to recycle styrofoam don't work very well. Styrofoam is cheap to produce. The standard method of recycling -- grinding up the styrofoam, heating it, and reforming it into blocks -- makes low quality styrofoam. But I was impressed when I came across this paper (pdf) from Sony. It's a clever method of melting the styrofoam, storing it efficiently, then extracting the raw material. All with non-toxic solvents. Sounds like a great solution.

Update: Seven years later, a styrofoam recycling facility has opened near Seattle.


Anonymous said...

This is being done in Arkansas by a company called Advanced Enviromental Technologies and they are using a much better process than Sony while reusing the polymer in roads and other products.

Lonny Stern said...

This PDF appears to have been created before 2000. Has there been a practical application of this technology yet?

Further, why not use corn-based packing materials rather than mess with creating styrofoam in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Pshhh...using corn is bad for the economy! we can't afford to expand into corn too much until we develop new farming techniques to deal with the increased demand for food!

Anonymous said...

Blue Earth Solutions recycles large amounts of Styrofoam. They have a patented solution that breaks it down to its original form to produce Polystyrene pellets. The Pellets are then resold to Plastics manufactures.

Check out their website: