Polystyrene foam: keeping fall’s favorite flavors hot

This month, many of us will once again order our coffees and teas hot instead of the refreshing iced versions we enjoyed during the summer.

As we welcome fall and all of its flavors, polystyrene foam foodservice products will help millions of us keep our favorite pumpkin-spiced or salted caramel lattes, cappuccinos and herbal teas hot – in a single cup, with no extra collar and without scalding our hands while we warm up at our favorite coffee and tea shops.

Polystyrene foam foodservice products are a convenient and a very affordable way to make our on-the-go lifestyles more delicious and a little less messy. Polystyrene foam not only helps keep our food fresh, hot or cold and ready to eat so we can enjoy food the way it’s meant to taste, but it also has many other benefits.

When it comes to hygiene, polystyrene foam foodservice products provide important sanitation benefits in restaurants, schools, nursing homes, hospitals and even at home – all places where we want to keep bacteria and germs to a minimum.

Also, foam is lightweight (it is actually made of about 95% air) and often requires much less energy to produce and transport than its alternatives – which can save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And it’s being recycled.

In fact, more than 125 million pounds of expanded polystyrene (mostly used for protective and transport packaging) were recycled in 2013. Polystyrene foam foodservice products are condensed, bundled and sent to recyclers to make new products, such as moldings, picture frames, coat hangers, office products and even surfboard blanks.

Scores of California cities are leading the way by collecting polystyrene foam (and non-foam rigid polystyrene) at curbsides, and this model could work elsewhere. For example, the Foam Recycling Coalition provided grants this year for polystyrene recycling programs in Denver, Colorado, and Colchester, Nova Scotia, so that residents will be able to toss polystyrene foodservice packaging, egg cartons, meat trays, protective packaging and other polystyrene products into their recycling bins.

So enjoy your next hot cider, herbal tea or latte this autumn – and keep a look out for growing polystyrene foam recycling programs.

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