Using Styrofoam to Clean Water—Not Pollute It

Teens Find New Use for Styrofoam

So many of the new products we purchase come packed in expanded polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam®)—TVs, appliances, toys are more. In fact, a whopping two billion pounds of Styrofoam is produced each year in the U.S. alone—enough to fill nearly 25% of all U.S. landfills.

Alarmingly, Styrofoam takes over 500 years to biodegrade and it is hardly ever recycled.

Why isn’t Styrofoam recycled?

  • It’s too expensive
  • There’s no market demand for recycled Styrofoam.
  • Single-use Styrofoam is often contaminated and therefore not viable as a recycled material.

Is there anything that can be done? Until recently, the outlook for Styrofoam was pretty bleak. It just continues to pile up…

But teen and inventor Ashton Cofer and his science fair teammates were able to find a way to recycle Styrofoam, turning it into activated carbon for use in water filters!

Watch Ashton’s TED talk to learn more.

comment_2Isn’t it amazing how so often young people are the ones to come up with answers to big problems? Do you have a special young person in your life who’s contributed toward a solution in a small or big way? We’d love to hear about him or her! Please share your story with our readers in the comments below.


Can Styrofoam Be Recycled?

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