Impacts and Risks of Polystyrene | Benefits, and Safety Facts




Polystyrene is one of the most unique plastics used to make various consumer products. There are several benefits of Polystyrene as it is used in almost all food packaging labs. It is a synthetic polymer that is made from styrene monomer. It is made up of 95% air which makes it a lightweight and easy-to-use product. Polystyrene is originally transparent but becomes colored when you add colorants to it. Even polystyrene comes in different grades and is used for a variety of purposes depending on the quality.


What are the various benefits of polystyrene?

Polystyrene can be used in a variety of applications. There are various benefits of polystyrene. Some of the typical applications are:

  • It is used in food packaging in almost all industries worldwide.
  • It is also used in preparing laboratory wares.
  • Various household electrical appliances and automobiles are made out of polystyrene.
  • The promoters use polystyrene to build and construct panels, shower units, lighting designs, and other plumbing features.
  • It is also used in insulation and cushioning.
  • Polystyrene is used to prepare medical items like test tubes, diagnostic and testing components, trays, petri dishes, and other lab components.

Polystyrene Products are robust and brittle. They are rigid and can be foamed because of their versatility. It has been considered safe by the FDA in the United States.

Why is polystyrene used in the above applications?

Some of the reasons why polystyrene is used in the above applications are:

  • Polystyrene is used to construct appliances, be they electrical or non-electrical- Air conditioners, refrigerators, television, computers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and other devices are made from polystyrene for their inert property. Polystyrene does not react with materials and gives a long-lasting look.
  • Polystyrene is used in automotive- Polystyrene, be it in solid form or in foam form, is used in making various parts of the automotive. One can prepare doors, panels, knobs, trim, sound-dampening foam, and other similar parts of automobiles easily with polystyrene. The rigidness of polystyrene makes it easy to use and makes the products durable.
  • Polystyrene is used in food industries- Polystyrene is an ideal product to be used in food packaging that is shipped. Most of the meat trays and egg cartons are made of polystyrene, which helps in better insulation and keeps the food fresh for a long compared to other packaging materials.
  • Polystyrene is used for insulation purposes- Since polystyrene has an excellent insulating property, it is used for thermal insulation in almost all appliances. It is resistant to water damage and can withstand very high and low temperatures as per the appliance.
  • Polystyrene is used in medical kits- Due to its ease of sterilization and clarity, it is used to prepare medical equipment like trays, Petri dishes, test tubes, and other diagnostic components. The pricing factor also plays a crucial Polystyrene is cost-effective and costs less compared to other similar products.


What are the benefits of Recycling Polystyrene?

Recycling any material, be it polystyrene or any waste product, is always a hot potato. People had a different notion in the past when recycling polystyrene was not possible. But with the growth of technology, people have started to be conscious of their mother earth. Some of the most common benefits of Recycling Polystyrene are:

  1. One can reduce the amount of waste generated that goes to landfill and seas.
  2. There is a significant reduction in the volume of polystyrene. Some of the polystyrene compactors compress up to 220 kg every hour, whereas the size of the materials also significantly reduces to 95%.
  3. It reduces the carbon footprint by extending the product’s lifecycle and reducing pressure on limited resources.
  4. Polystyrene is space-saving as it reduces up to 5% compared to its original size. It reduces fall hazards in the working area.
  5. It adds to the revenue stream for the business because there is a huge market waiting for the polystyrene blocks. The demand for polystyrene blocks is accelerating rapidly, so instead of throwing them away, one can sell them to business owners for financial benefit.

What are the impacts and risks involved with polystyrene?

Some of the risks involved are:

  • It poses threats to marine life because the disposal of polystyrene is not bio-degradable.
  • Polystyrene breaks into tiny small particles that may look like food to aquatic animals and may be consumed and eventually lead to their death.
  • The amount of oil that is a non-renewable resource is produced in massive amounts,
  • It has long-term damage to the environment.

What is the most effective way of recycling polystyrene?

The most effective way of recycling polystyrene is first to examine the amount of polystyrene consumed by a company, either weekly or monthly. And after that, you can start investigating polystyrene compactors for recycling. Although it is highly recyclable, it becomes challenging to recycle it at the consumer level. One needs to ship it to the facilities center, where it can be compressed using compactors.

What are the safety facts of polystyrene?

The compactors are equipped with modern technology that can load the waste material directly into the compactor and compress it by applying pressure. After releasing the tension, bales are eventually created that vary in size, depending on the machine model. These machines are durable and are simple to operate.  They have low maintenance and can work with both dry and wet polystyrene. You can collect all the bales and sell them to the recycling company to maximize revenue. This way, you can recycle the polystyrene and also add up to your revenue.


In this modern-day world, one thinks that products made from new materials have a better lifecycle than old materials, but it is quite the opposite in the case of polystyrene. Polystyrene Products that are made from recycled polystyrene or old polystyrene have the same lifecycle compared to when made from a new one. Polystyrene does not degrade on its own and takes up to more than 500 years to decompose.