Tough Love: Disintegrating Polystyrene

Shanpu Ya and colleagues at the Polymer Science & Engineering College of Quingdao University of Science & Technology in China have applied for a patent on a biodegradable polystyrene. They embed water-absorbing resin particles which expand when in contact with water, reducing the polystyrene to powder that they say should then biodegrade.

They say it is actually cheaper than conventional foamed polystyrene, so it " should therefore be readily adopted by cost-conscious companies that also want to be environmentally responsible."

We suppose this is progress. However when we have to throw out this stuff we still have to deal with the volume it takes in our garbage bags, the waste of single use packaging that is still hydrocarbon based, and the cartage to the dump. They fact that it will eventually biodegrade is perhaps a good thing, But wouldn't it be better to design packaging so that the packing is recyclable or not needed at all? ::New Scientist

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