Polystyrene vs. Green Alternatives

July 5, 2011

Cups, plates, and "clamshell" sandwich containers made of polystyrene foam use significantly less energy and water than paper-based or corn-based products, according to a study commissioned by the American Chemistry Council.

Researchers modeled energy consumption, water use, solid waste, and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from production, transportation, and disposal for cups, plates, and clamshells in a variety of thicknesses. Findings included:

Energy: Polystyrene products consume half as much energy as wax-coated paperboard cups and one-third as much as corn-based clamshells.

Water: Polystyrene uses up to four times less water than corn-based clamshells.

Solid waste: Polystyrene cups for 16-ounce hot drinks create significantly less waste by volume than paperboard cups with corrugated sleeves for insulation. Polystyrene produces less solid waste than wax-coated paperboard and corn-based materials.

To read more about the study, visit www.plasticfoodservicefacts.com.

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