Styrofoam products compose thirty percent of landfills. These products take five hundred years to biodegrade as well as are difficult to recycle. This means that we are filling up more land than they are being decomposed. Besides its extremely lengthy biodegrading period, Styrofoams are also extremely detrimental to the health. This is because their molecular composition is polystyrene of which health effects consist of “irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal effects”. Exposure to polystyrene affects the central nervous system which causes “depression, headache, fatigue, and weakness”1. Styrofoams are also manufactured by hydrocarbons alongside polystyrene, which when combined with nitrogen oxides in sunlight forms hazardous pollutant that also depletes the ozone layer1.
Solutions to Styrofoam are scant. One way to solve this is recycling them. However, doing so costs $3,000 per tonne. To put this in scope, 2.3 million tonnes of styrofoams are being dumped into landfills each year in the United States with 3 million tonnes produced. This costs approximately 6.9 to 9 billion dollars to recycle Styrofoam in just the United States each year. Another solution to Styrofoam is simply using alternatives. Materials such as paper are far more effective and environmental friendly. Paper products are easier to recycle as well as safe and biodegradable.