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Immortal Styrofoam Meets its Enemy
LiveScience ^ | Mar 7, 2006 | Robert Roy Britt

Posted on 03/08/2006 8:30:23 PM PST by djf

Immortal Styrofoam Meets its Enemy By Robert Roy Britt LiveScience Managing Editor posted: 07 March 2006 09:27 am ET

There's an old joke that if you were reincarnated, you might want to come back as a Styrofoam cup.

Why? Because they last forever. Ba-dum-bum.

Despite being made 95 percent of air, Styrofoam's manufactured immortality has posed a problem for recycling efforts. More than 3 million tons of the durable material is produced every year in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Very little of it is recycled.

Help may come from bacteria that have been found to eat Styrofoam and turn it into useable plastic. This is the stuff recycling dreams are made of: Yesterday's cup could become tomorrow's plastic spoon.

Kevin O’Connor of University College Dublin and his colleagues heated polystyrene foam, the generic name for Styrofoam, to convert it to styrene oil. The natural form of styrene is in real peanuts, strawberries and a good steak. A synthetic form is used in car parts and electronic components.

Anyway, the scientists fed this styrene oil to the soil bacteria Pseudomonas putida, which converted it into biodegradable plastic known as PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates).

PHA can be used to make plastic forks and packaging film. It is resistant to heat, grease and oil. It also lasts a long time. But unlike Styrofoam, PHA biodegrades in soil and water.

The process will be detailed in the April 1 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: recycling; styrofoam; styrofoamrecycling

1 posted on 03/08/2006 8:30:24 PM PST by djf
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To: djf

I recall the gov telling the styro industry they couldn't use freon as a foaming agent anymore.
The EPA's alternative?
Butane!


2 posted on 03/08/2006 8:33:27 PM PST by steve8714 (Burn Peugeot, burn.)
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To: djf

I always thought that styrofoam was being recycled in the form of Dominoes pizza crust and MREs.


3 posted on 03/08/2006 8:35:18 PM PST by SamAdams76 (Venus is dazzling, but not very high, in the western sky)
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To: steve8714

This is a pretty important find, I think something like 60 percent of landfill volume is styro.

The stuff's like a bad old girlfriend. Won't go away.


4 posted on 03/08/2006 8:35:28 PM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: djf

"Yummm! I LOVE fast food containers!"

5 posted on 03/08/2006 8:35:34 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: steve8714
I find burning the stuff works great. Since I am working night and day to hurry along global warming by burning my trash so that Seattle becomes tropical again, or at least like CA.
6 posted on 03/08/2006 8:40:58 PM PST by stubernx98 (cranky, but reasonable)
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To: stubernx98

I thought we dissolved it in gasoline and called it napalm.


7 posted on 03/08/2006 8:43:03 PM PST by csmusaret (Urban Sprawl is an oxymoron)
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To: djf

To prevent duplication, please do not alter the heading. Thanks.


8 posted on 03/08/2006 8:44:48 PM PST by Lead Moderator
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To: djf
Thermal Depolymerization (aka Thermal Conversion Process). Turns "anything" into oil (see the recent update in Discover magazine). Put plastic in. Get oil back out.
9 posted on 03/08/2006 8:44:59 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions

Heard about it. Not sure what the cost/benefit ratio is.

We got a heck of alot of cottonwoods here in the northwest, and they grow like wildfire.


10 posted on 03/08/2006 8:51:37 PM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: djf
This is a pretty important find, I think something like 60 percent of landfill volume is styro.

Another "urban myth" vampire is created.
So many ignorant people (controlling types) want so much to believe this, that they will repeat it (unchallenged) until it is assumed to be true.

11 posted on 03/08/2006 8:53:09 PM PST by Publius6961 (Multiculturalism is the white flag of a dying country)
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To: djf
If you don't mind downloading a huge PDF, you can find a copy of the first Discover magazine article here, which describes the process and potential benefits. The costs turned out to be higher than that article projected (in part because the US didn't ban feeding turkey waste back to turkeys, which means they have to pay for the waste rather than being paid to dispose of it) but there is an update in the current issue of Discover that explains where things stand, how they are finally getting the subsidy issue worked out, and where things are headed.
12 posted on 03/08/2006 8:58:33 PM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Publius6961

Well, then, Snopes me out. While it may not entirely be styro, I know I've heard over 50% is packing materials.


13 posted on 03/08/2006 8:58:48 PM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: djf
The process will be detailed in the April 1 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

I'm skeptical...

14 posted on 03/08/2006 8:59:26 PM PST by twhitak
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To: twhitak

I've always said it's only a matter of time before some critter crawls out of a landfill and decides it really thinks polyester is tasty stuff.

Then, the next time you drive by a K-Mart, all you see is big, ugly, bare bottoms.


15 posted on 03/08/2006 9:03:13 PM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: djf

I thought land fills were 60% disposable diapers.

Must change daily.


16 posted on 03/08/2006 9:10:47 PM PST by truemiester (If the U.S. should fail, a veil of darkness will come over the Earth for a thousand years)
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To: djf
"By weight, plastics make up about 11 percent of America’s municipal solid waste. In comparison, paper makes up about 36 percent.

Of course, plastics are generally very lightweight. When plastics are buried in a landfill, they occupy about 25 percent of the space." (EIA Kid's website)


17 posted on 03/08/2006 9:23:06 PM PST by endthematrix (None dare call it ISLAMOFACISM!)
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To: djf

Hmmmm....So what would be produced if you fed democrats to these bacteria?


18 posted on 03/08/2006 9:30:58 PM PST by Buck W. (John Kerry: The Emir of Absurdistan.)
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To: Buck W.

Whatever it was, I'm sure the EPA would have to classify it as "waste products"


19 posted on 03/08/2006 9:32:56 PM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: djf
I think something like 60 percent of landfill volume is styro.

The rest is left over Earth Day posters.

20 posted on 03/08/2006 9:55:42 PM PST by Richard Kimball (I like to make everyone's day a little more surreal)
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To: djf
PHA can be used to make plastic forks and packaging film.

Plastic forks made outta bug poop? I ain't using no fork made outta no bug poop!

(redneck mode)

21 posted on 03/08/2006 10:18:17 PM PST by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: SamAdams76
I always thought that styrofoam was being recycled in the form of Dominoes pizza crust and MREs.

Don't forget these:


22 posted on 03/08/2006 10:27:27 PM PST by Denver Ditdat (Melting solder since 1975)
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To: stubernx98
I find burning the stuff works great. Since I am working night and day to hurry along global warming by burning my trash so that Seattle becomes tropical again, or at least like CA.

It burns better if you mix it with gasoline and then throw in a few mothballs.

23 posted on 03/08/2006 10:27:28 PM PST by elmer fudd
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To: wyattearp

Why not? You drink bovine mammary excretions, and eat bee barf don't you? You also swallow about a bug a month in your sleep. Bread is partially yeast excreta, as is beer. Alcohol is also yeast waste.

You already consume bug poop. You just never thought about it before.


24 posted on 03/08/2006 10:28:56 PM PST by Don W (Stoneage man survived thousands of years of bitter-cold ice. Modern man WILLsurvive global warming.)
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To: djf
Well, then, Snopes me out. While it may not entirely be styro, I know I've heard over 50% is packing materials.

It's likely newsprint, the packing material for the continuous stream of BS the lefties are constanly trying to pawn off as fact.

25 posted on 03/08/2006 10:30:13 PM PST by Denver Ditdat (Melting solder since 1975)
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To: Don W
You also swallow about a bug a month in your sleep.

I thought that was spiders?

26 posted on 03/09/2006 12:39:34 AM PST by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: djf; All
This'll do it...

PB Penetrating Catalyst

PB Penetrating Catalyst

27 posted on 03/09/2006 1:35:55 AM PST by backhoe (-30-)
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