Styrofoam, or EPS, is a super light and cheap material and a great insulator, but apart from that, there really isn´t many pretty words you can say about it!
It´s not produced from a renewable resource, it isn´t easily recyclable and it isn´t biodegradable.
In addition, the production of styrofoam releases toxic gasses and results in toxic solid and liquid waste.
The good news is that companies such as NEB, Sigma-Aldrich and Promega offer Take Back Programs for styrofoam. The concept is simple: You return the boxes at the
company´s expense, and the company reuses the boxes.
The even better news is that some companies have found alternatives to using styrofoam: NEB and Thermo Fisher have recently announced that they started using 100% recyclable, paper/cardboard-based solutions for cold shipping instead of styrofoam.
You can help reduce the styrofoam production by:
using the Take Back Programs
buying products from the companies that use styrofoam alternatives for cold shipping
putting pressure on your suppliers by asking them if they can take back and reuse their styrofoam boxes and if they plan to substitute styrofoam for more sustainable alternatives. If you don´t have direct contact with your suppliers, you can talk to the people who do.
The suppliers won´t change overnight, but they will change faster if they know that their costumers care about their styrofoam policy!