Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of Styrofoam

Styrofoam coolers

Styrofoam coolers are widely used for cold shipping materials used in life science laboratories.  How to recycle these coolers is a question that frequently comes up for our labconscious readers.  Styrofoam is recyclable but the availability of this service is rarer due to the cost of transporting 100% of its volume to a facility, to recover only 3% of plastic.  That's a lot of air space!

The quick informational video below does a great job explaining why innovation is needed at the point of use and disposal for Styrofoam materials.  Let's face it.  This is a problem encountered with Styrofoam items by scientists and non-scientists alike.  The video also quickly covers why paper is not always recyclable - and can actually be responsible for greater energy expenditure than in the "life cycle" of Styrofoam items.  

Our Labconscious supporter, New England Biolabs is a life science company that has a Sytrofoam shipping take back program for its customers.   Unfortunately this type of service is not applicable for research institutions that need to ship their own materials which are biohazardous.  In this case, either a fully biodegradable cold shipper, or a point of use Styrofoam recycling system would be ideal solutions!  

Best wishes on all your lab bench results! Thank you for thinking about running a green lab.  Follow our blog and our twitter account for labconscious news.