Non-Plastic Journey – What Is Styrofoam?


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Environmental | Posted on 11-08-2009

Tags: ,

On my Non-Plastic Journey I came up with quite a few questions. This next few posts will address those questions. The first: What is Styrofoam?

STYROFOAM is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. It differs from the generic term styrofoam. Dow’s  STYROFOAM is a closed cell, extruded polystyrene that resists moisture. It is most often used in insulating, building products. So when we  Americans refer to our coffee cups as styrofoam we’re actually referring to the non-trademarked version of expanded polystyrene.

That leads to my next question: what is polystyrene? Polystyrene is a polymer. A polymer is similar to a brick wall in that a it is made up of individual bricks. These individual bricks are called monomers. So polystyrene is many “bricks” of styrene. According to Wikipedia, it’s one of the most widely use plastics and is a by-product of petroleum. You may know it as #6. The #6 refers to the recycling symbol on the bottom of objects made with this type of plastic.

So, basically, the styrofoam cooler that Dave & I brought to the beach this Saturday was indeed a form of plastic. Interesting.

Write a comment