Foam#6, also known as styrofoam or EPS, has been preferred as container material for many restaurants and enterprises due to its heat resistance and reservation. However, because the knowledge of foam#6 recycling has not been popularized, many city governments such as California and Oregon consider that waste foam is difficult to be recycled, and the environmental costs and health hazards foam#6 bring are greater than the advantages. Under the circumstances, they issued a law prohibiting the use of foam containers to prevent the environmental impact of this material. “We should choose eco-friendly food containers material,” said Brian Langloss, New York campaign organizer for Oceana. So what are the environmental alternatives to foam#6?
1. Mushroom Material
These materials are really made from mushrooms! Agricultural waste is mixed with mushroom fungus to grow a fully sustainable container alternative.
Aluminum has good heat resistance and retention, as well as good grease and liquid control. But unlike the smoothness of foam#6, its sharp edges and lack of external insulation can pose risks.
3. Bagasse＆Molded fiber
Bagasse and molded fiber products are resistant to grease and cutting. But their steam control ability is poor, easy to cause food moisture. Both of them are made with environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Bagasse is made from residual by-products of the sugar or wheat extraction process. Molded fiber is made from recycled cardboard, newsprint, and / or corrugated board. They are the most natural substitute for foam#6.
4. PLA Plastic Containers
Polylactic acid plastic is a thermoplastic, usually made from sugar from corn, cassava, or sugarcane. FDA recognizes it as a food safety packaging material.
To tell the truth, although there are so many environmental containers that can replace foam#6, they also have their own shortcomings. For example, although PLA is a food safety packaging material，due to its different chemical properties from traditional plastics, it must be separated and recycled properly, so recycle it is even more troublesome than foam recycling. And in terms of other biodegradable materials, they are not only expensive than foam#6, but also require rigorous conditions for composting.