From Recycling Centers to DIY Methods: The Ultimate Guide to Styrofoam Disposal

June 22, 2022 in environment, recycling

Article summary and Key takeaways: Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a non-biodegradable material that takes hundreds of years to decompose. To mitigate its environmental impact, it is important to properly dispose of Styrofoam using appropriate recycling methods. Recycling centers and DIY methods can be used to recycle Styrofoam. Large Styrofoam items can be donated or repurposed. Various Styrofoam recycling services are available, including free programs offered by local governments and retailers like Home Depot. Not all Styrofoam products are recyclable, and non-recyclable Styrofoam should be disposed of as regular garbage. Styrofoam coolers can be recycled or repurposed. Shrinking Styrofoam before disposal can reduce its volume. Large Styrofoam pieces can be reused, repurposed, or donated. It is important to follow local regulations and guidelines for Styrofoam disposal. Burning Styrofoam releases harmful chemicals and should be avoided. Arlington, TX has Styrofoam recycling programs in place. Proper Styrofoam disposal is crucial for a more sustainable future.

Dispose of Styrofoam

Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a commonly used material in packaging and food containers due to its lightweight and insulating properties. However, the environmental impact of Styrofoam is significant, as it is non-biodegradable and takes hundreds of years to decompose. In order to mitigate this impact, it is crucial to properly dispose of Styrofoam using appropriate recycling methods. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to dispose of Styrofoam responsibly, including recycling options, alternative ways to repurpose or reuse Styrofoam, and the importance of following local regulations and guidelines.

Styrofoam Recycling Options

If you are looking to recycle Styrofoam, the first step is to find recycling centers near you. Local recycling centers play a vital role in accepting and processing Styrofoam waste, ensuring that it is reused or properly disposed of. It is important to find recycling centers in your area to minimize the carbon footprint associated with transportation. There are several online resources available to help you locate nearby Styrofoam recycling centers, such as Earth911 or RecycleNation.

Alternatively, you can also recycle Styrofoam at home using DIY methods. One popular method is to melt down Styrofoam using acetone. However, it is crucial to exercise caution when using this method, as acetone is highly flammable and should be handled with care. Another DIY method involves using a hot wire cutter to cut Styrofoam into smaller pieces, which can then be recycled.

Before recycling Styrofoam, it is important to prepare it properly. Remove any tape, labels, or other non-Styrofoam materials attached to the packaging. Clean the Styrofoam to remove any food residues or contaminants. This ensures that the recycling process is more effective and prevents contamination of other recyclable materials.

Disposing of Large Styrofoam Items

Disposing of large Styrofoam items can be a challenge due to their size and bulkiness. However, there are several options available for properly disposing of these items. One option is to check with local recycling centers to see if they accept large Styrofoam items. Some centers may have specific guidelines for accepting and processing larger pieces of Styrofoam.

Another option is to donate large Styrofoam items to organizations or individuals who may have a use for them. This can include schools, community centers, or artists who create sculptures or installations using recycled materials. Reusing or repurposing large Styrofoam items is a creative way to extend their lifespan and reduce waste.

Styrofoam Recycling Services

There are various Styrofoam recycling services available, both free and paid. Some local governments offer free Styrofoam recycling programs as part of their waste management initiatives. These programs typically have designated drop-off locations where residents can bring their Styrofoam waste for recycling.

In addition, several retailers, such as grocery stores or electronics retailers, offer free recycling services for Styrofoam. These retailers often have specific recycling bins or areas where customers can drop off their Styrofoam packaging. It is important to check with individual retailers to ensure they accept Styrofoam and to inquire about any specific guidelines or limitations.

One notable retailer that offers Styrofoam recycling programs is Home Depot. Home Depot has partnered with several recycling organizations to provide convenient and accessible Styrofoam recycling options. Customers can bring their clean and dry Styrofoam packaging to select Home Depot stores, where it will be collected and sent for recycling.

Is Styrofoam Recyclable or Garbage?

Styrofoam is recyclable, contrary to common misconceptions. However, it is important to note that not all Styrofoam products are recyclable. Styrofoam that is contaminated with food residues, labeled as biodegradable, or made from materials other than polystyrene cannot be recycled and should be disposed of as regular garbage.

Proper disposal of non-recyclable Styrofoam involves putting it in a plastic bag and sealing it tightly to prevent it from breaking apart and creating litter. This bagged Styrofoam can be placed in regular trash bins for disposal. However, it is important to check with local regulations and guidelines, as some municipalities may have specific requirements for Styrofoam disposal.

Recycling Styrofoam Coolers

Recycling Styrofoam coolers is important to reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of these bulky items. While not all recycling centers accept Styrofoam coolers, there are options available to properly dispose of them. Check with local recycling centers to see if they accept Styrofoam coolers or if they have specific guidelines for their disposal.

If recycling is not an option, there are alternative ways to reuse or repurpose Styrofoam coolers. They can be used for storage, insulation, or in DIY projects. For example, Styrofoam coolers can be turned into planters for a garden, used as a base for a homemade pet house, or utilized as a protective layer for fragile items during storage or transport.

How to Shrink Styrofoam for Disposal

Shrinking Styrofoam before disposal can help reduce its volume and make it more manageable for disposal. There are several methods for shrinking Styrofoam at home. One method involves using a heat gun or hairdryer to apply heat to the Styrofoam, causing it to shrink. It is important to use caution when using heat sources and to work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes.

Another method for shrinking Styrofoam involves using acetone. Place the Styrofoam in a container with acetone and let it soak until it dissolves. This method is best suited for small Styrofoam pieces, as larger pieces may take longer to dissolve.

When shrinking Styrofoam, it is important to take precautions. Wear gloves and protective eyewear to avoid direct contact with the material and any potential fumes. Work in a well-ventilated area to minimize exposure to any chemicals or fumes that may be released during the shrinking process.

What to Do with a Large Piece of Styrofoam

If you have a large piece of Styrofoam that you no longer need, there are several creative ways to reuse or repurpose it. Large Styrofoam pieces can be used as insulation for DIY projects, such as insulating a shed or constructing a soundproof room. They can also be used as a base for creating a custom-sized bulletin board or as a backdrop for artistic projects.

If reusing or repurposing is not an option, consider donating the large Styrofoam piece to organizations or individuals who may have a use for it. Schools, community centers, or local artists may be interested in acquiring large Styrofoam pieces for various projects or installations.

If disposal is the only option, it is important to follow proper disposal methods. Contact local recycling centers to inquire about their acceptance of large Styrofoam pieces or to ask for guidance on how to dispose of them responsibly.

How to Get Rid of Styrofoam

There are various disposal methods available for getting rid of Styrofoam. The choice of method depends on factors such as the size of the Styrofoam, the availability of recycling centers, and local regulations and guidelines. It is important to consider these factors to ensure responsible disposal of Styrofoam.

Recycling is always the preferred method for disposing of Styrofoam. Research local recycling centers or programs to find out if they accept Styrofoam and if there are any specific requirements for recycling. If recycling is not an option, follow proper disposal methods for non-recyclable Styrofoam, such as sealing it in a plastic bag before placing it in regular trash bins.

It is crucial to follow local regulations and guidelines when disposing of Styrofoam. Some municipalities may have specific requirements or restrictions on Styrofoam disposal, such as limiting the amount of Styrofoam that can be placed in trash bins or providing designated drop-off locations for recycling. Compliance with these regulations helps ensure that Styrofoam waste is handled responsibly and minimizes its impact on the environment.

Burning Styrofoam vs. Throwing It Away

While burning Styrofoam may seem like a convenient way to dispose of it, it is important to consider the environmental impact and associated risks. Burning Styrofoam releases harmful chemicals and toxins into the air, contributing to air pollution and posing health risks to both humans and the environment.

Instead of burning Styrofoam, it is recommended to properly dispose of it using the methods mentioned earlier. Recycling, reusing, or repurposing Styrofoam are all preferable alternatives to burning. By choosing responsible disposal methods, we can reduce the environmental impact of Styrofoam and preserve our planet for future generations.

Styrofoam Recycling in Arlington TX

If you are located in Arlington TX and are looking to recycle Styrofoam, there are several options available. Arlington has implemented Styrofoam recycling programs as part of its waste management initiatives. Local recycling centers and organizations accept Styrofoam waste and ensure that it is recycled or properly disposed of.

One of the recycling centers in Arlington TX that accepts Styrofoam is the Arlington Ecofest Recycling Drop-Off Event. This event takes place annually and provides residents with an opportunity to drop off various recyclable materials, including Styrofoam. Additionally, some retail stores in Arlington, such as Whole Foods Market, have Styrofoam recycling programs in place.

If you are unsure about Styrofoam recycling options in Arlington TX, it is recommended to contact the Arlington Solid Waste Services or visit their website for more information. They can provide guidance on local recycling centers, programs, and regulations related to Styrofoam disposal.


Properly disposing of Styrofoam is essential for mitigating its environmental impact and reducing waste. By recycling Styrofoam, reusing or repurposing it, and following local regulations and guidelines, we can contribute to a more sustainable future. It is important to take action and spread awareness about responsible Styrofoam disposal to ensure the well-being of our planet for generations to come.

Question 1: What can I do with a large piece of Styrofoam?
Answer: Styrofoam can be used for insulation, crafting, or as packaging material.

Question 2: How do you get rid of Styrofoam?
Answer: Styrofoam can be taken to recycling centers or special drop-off locations for proper disposal.

Question 3: Is it better to burn Styrofoam or throw it away?
Answer: It is better to throw Styrofoam away rather than burning it, as burning releases harmful toxins into the air.

Question 4: Can Styrofoam be recycled in Arlington TX?
Answer: Yes, Styrofoam can be recycled in Arlington TX. There are specific drop-off locations and recycling centers available for Styrofoam recycling.


About the author 

Jordan Miller

Hi there, I'm Jordan! I graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Environmental Policy, but my real education has been in the field, turning theory into practice. My days are filled with implementing sustainable solutions and teaching communities how to embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle. I believe small changes can make a big impact, and I'm here to guide you through every step of going green.