Styrofoam is the household name for EPS, a kind of plastic. To throw away Styrofoam, remove any recyclable pieces, then break down sheets or blocks into smaller bits you can put in your regular trash can. To recycle, make sure you have plain white Styrofoam marked with the triangular recycling symbol. Contact local agencies to see if they’ll take it. If recycling isn’t an option, reuse your Styrofoam or repurpose it for creative DIY projects.

Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Throwing Away Styrofoam

  1. Carefully look over your foam pieces for paper, cardboard, or glass. Set those pieces aside to recycle later. You can place them in your own recycling bin or take them to your local recycling center.
    • Only items uncontaminated by food or medical use are recyclable.
    • Contact your local agency if you’re unsure what they can process.
  2. If you have large foam blocks or sheets, cut them into smaller cubes. They'll fit easily into a trash bag, and you might be able to fit more in a single bag.
  3. This is what most local agencies not only suggest, but require.[1] Since recycling Styrofoam can be costly, for most, it’s not worthwhile to put resources into processing it.[2] Follow guidelines and toss your foam with your everyday trash.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Recycling Styrofoam

  1. In general, the only Styrofoam with a high chance of being recycled is clean, white packaging foam.[3] If your foam is dyed, it probably won’t be accepted. You’ll also have better luck with foam blocks than packing peanuts.
  2. Typically, recyclable plain white Styrofoam is marked with a triangle, and the number 6 is stamped inside.
    • This foam can be turned into plastic, sent overseas to make another item like a picture frame, then shipped back for sale in the U.S.
    • Remember that almost all Styrofoam food containers, cups, and plates are considered trash due to food contamination. Foam used for medical purposes is also unusable. This is true even if they have a recycling triangle.[4]
  3. Some waste authorities will accept clean foam food trays and/or foam egg cartons. Refer to your local agency's website for details on what they can recycle.[5]
    • Google your city name and add “Styrofoam” to find your agency’s website.
  4. There might be drop-off areas in your area who are willing to take your unwanted Styrofoam. Use the EPS-IA’s online directory to find sites near you.[6] Call locations beforehand to learn what Styrofoam they’ll take.[7]
    • All containers should be clean and empty. Remove any tape, labels, or plastic film.
    • If you have a truck's worth of recyclable Styrofoam, there might be a fee due to the amount.
  5. You can look for a mail-in location on EPS-IA’s website.[8] You’ll have to cover the shipping, but it should be low-cost. Remove any debris, then break the Styrofoam into small pieces. Place the foam in a shipping box.[9]
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Reusing or Upcycling Styrofoam

  1. Shippers use packing peanuts because they’re good at what they do: protecting items during transit. If you plan to mail packages, try using the peanuts you have. If you don’t need them, donate to a local shipping store.[10]
  2. Styrofoam makes a great material for costumes or decorations because it's lightweight. Create templates on the Styrofoam for desired shapes, then cut them out. Use paint or markers to decorate low-cost but sturdy-looking props and stage backgrounds.
    • Make a magic wand by cutting out a star shape. Poke a hole in the bottom with a pencil. Insert craft glue into the hole, then slide in a wooden dowel for the handle.[11]
    • Use markers or paint to turn a Styrofoam plate into a shining sun.
    • Glue white packing peanuts into the shape of a little igloo.[12]
  3. Using Styrofoam in the base of your planter means you'll use and waste less soil.[13] It also makes for a lighter planter and aids water drainage.
  4. With some effort, you can repurpose Styrofoam into something new to furnish your space. For example, you could build a beautiful garden statue, or cut up pieces to make your own beanbag chair filling.[14]
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    What would happen if I burn Styrofoam?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Burning Styrofoam releases the dangerous chemical carbon monoxide into the air, which could make you ill or even prove fatal.



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wikiHow Staff
Co-authored by:
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This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 241,226 times.
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Co-authors: 9
Updated: December 11, 2023
Views: 241,226
Article SummaryX

Before disposing of Styrofoam, find out if your local recycling service will accept it. If not, you will need to throw the Styrofoam away in the regular trash. Remove any recyclable components from the Styrofoam item, such as cardboard, paper, or recyclable plastic, and put them aside or toss them into the recycle bin. If it’s a large piece of Styrofoam, cut it up into smaller pieces so it will fit easily into your trash container. Put the Styrofoam in your regular dumpster or garbage can. If you are able to recycle Styrofoam in your area, check first that it is clean and free of dyes. Check for the triangular recycling symbol somewhere on the Styrofoam. If you’re not sure how to recycle the Styrofoam, check with your local recycling authority to find out if they will pick it up or if you need to drop it off somewhere. They might also specify what types of Styrofoam items they will take, such as clean egg cartons or food trays. If you can’t recycle locally, check the EPS-IA’s website for a mail-in location where you can send your Styrofoam. You can also reuse clean Styrofoam for arts and crafts or packing material.

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