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Is Styrofoam recyclable? 

15 JUN 21 | 2 minute read

First things first, it’s worth explaining what Styrofoam is as it is often confused with expanded polystyrene. 

The white, foam-like material with a spongy feel to it commonly used in moulded box packaging, bean bag fillings, coffee cups and takeaway food packaging from cafes, chip shops and burger vans where you can easily spear your fork into the lid of it are all expanded polystyrene (rather than Styrofoam). 

Find out more about what to do with polystyrene here.  

What is Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a form of polystyrene created by the Dow Chemical Company and covers a whole host of extruded polystyrene products used in building construction. These are normally flat panels of wall, floor and roof insulation. It can also be used as pipe insulation and can be supplied in a tube-shaped format.

Styrofoam does not degrade or break down over time, is unsinkable and maintains its form well. Styrofoam can be destroyed if it is incinerated at extremely high temperatures, however, if it is burned in a normal fire, it releases pollutants.  

Styrofoam can’t be put into household recycling but if you have large offcuts in good condition, you could try offering them on online selling sites such as Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for insulation projects. #HowToWasteless

How is Styrofoam made?

Styrofoam is made from a petroleum-based product ‘styrene’ that is refined into polystyrene with an added hydrofluorocarbon agent that is then extruded and expands under pressure creating a foam board. 

Can I put Styrofoam in my recycling bin?

No, Styrofoam can’t be put into household recycling but if you have large offcuts in good condition, you could try offering them on online selling sites such as Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for insulation projects. 

If you are undertaking a building or DIY project, make sure to dispose of any waste products correctly. Check ahead to see what types of materials your local recycling centre can take or see our page, what to do with building materials

If you are having building work completed by a contractor, double-check that they have a waste carriers' licence to ensure that any leftover building materials are disposed of responsibly.