Polystyrene Pollution

The chances are that the last computer, TV, fridge or washing machine, self-assembly furniture or supermarket packed meat or fish you bought came packed with expanded polystyrene foam.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is an amazing substance, invented in 1839, and it is now estimated around 300,000 tons of EPS is disposed of every year in the UK alone – roughly 15,000 Olympic sized swimming pools ! It is difficult and expensive to recycle and is essentially non-biodegradable, being resistant to breakdown by sunlight or micro-organisms, and therefore is set to persist in the environment for hundreds of years; either buried in landfills, across the landscape, or most damagingly in the world’s oceans.

The global polystyrene industry is worth an estimated $20 billion annually, but Eben Bayer and his company Ecovative are on a mission to disrupt and ultimately do away with this industry, EPS packaging, and ultimately EPS pollution.

His alternative product is a mushroom !

Ecocradle is grown fertilized by organic wastes from the food industry and farming, it uses less energy than EPS and non of the hazardous precurser chemicals.

At the end of its life is can be easily broken down and composted in the customer’s own garden.


Photo by Complexify via Flickr

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  1. Once you’ve got a pile of it at home, it’s very difficult to know what to do with it.

    Some suggestions I’ve seen suggest grinding it down and adding it to soil as a conditioner – which sounds like a very bad idea to me (http://bit.ly/AEUauy) – even the EPS Group of the British Plastics Federation admit there’s effectively no options for consumer EPS recycling (http://bit.ly/zs0APT) – very poor :(

    California is already well on the way to banning it, at least for food use – hopefully it will be the start of a worldwide trend.

  2. I have to say – I absolutely hate this stuff. We do of course live in a plastic world – it’s everywhere. But polystyrene seems to symbolise our lack of respect for our environment. The industry knows it is indestructible, but they won’t stop using it. However, I see a bright ray of hope in Eben Bayer . . .

  3. Apparently some polystyrene boxes are found useful by beekeepers.

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