Can Styrofoam Packaging Cause Cancer?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently added styrene to a list of possible carcinogens. Styrene is a chemical found in polystyrene plastics, better known as Styrofoam materials. Among other additions to the list are formaldehyde, aristolochic acids, and certain glass and wool fibers found in insulation.

Styrofoam has long been known for its negative impact on the environment, as the material is difficult to recycle and break down in landfills. The plastic is commonly used for its durability, insulation and affordable prices, and can typically be found in restaurants and cafeterias in the form of takeout containers, trays and cups. The state of California is currently working to ban Styrofoam altogether in restaurants and other foodservice establishments, and many businesses, packaging manufacturers and consumers are looking for alternatives to the harmful plastic.

With Styrofoam containers now causing health concerns, there comes a greater need for sustainable replacements for polystyrene plastic.

  • Molded fiber containers are an ideal replacement for Styrofoam food takeout containers and shipping containers, providing sufficient cushioning, insulation and safety.
  • Starch-based packaging has begun replacing Styrofoam loose fill packaging, also known as packing peanuts, and are even biodegradable for safe disposal.
  • Recycled PET (RPET) is made from recycled water bottles, and is a safe alternative to Styrofoam food packaging, including beverage cups and other containers.

According to the government report, the greatest exposure to styrene is from cigarette smoke. However, it certainly can't hurt to start taking the steps toward a greener, healthier future by replacing Styrofoam with safer packaging.

Contact Heritage today to learn more about sustainable packaging solutions.