We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
DIY

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What are Styrofoam™ Cups?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: May 16, 2024

Styrofoam™ cups is what cups made out of polystyrene foam, or plastic #6, are commonly referred to. However, the term Styrofoam™ is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company and is not used to make food products -- including cups, plates, take-out containers or egg cartons. Styrofoam™ is used for packaging materials such as foam peanuts or inserts in boxes around electronic equipment, along with materials for crafts.

Despite the fact that the term Styrofoam™ cups is technically incorrect, most people refer to these polystyrene cups that way. Most people purchase disposable cups because they are easy to clean up and do not need to be washed. If you stop and get a cup of coffee on the way to work in the morning, chances are it came in a polystyrene cup.

There is much debate over what type of disposable cups and plates are better for the environment. In general, if you can use a cup or plate made of glass or ceramic that can be washed and reused, that is the best choice. If disposable plates and cups are a necessity, though, most environmentalists advocate choosing paper first, then plastic. Styrofoam™ cups should generally be thought of as a last resort.

Some are also concerned with health issues from using polystyrene foam in food. It is possible for some of the chemicals found in the polystyrene foam to leach into food, which you would then ingest. Scientific studies are taking place to determine the health effects, if any, from ingesting small amounts of these chemicals. As a general rule, however, you should avoid microwaving any food or beverage in a foam container.

Another problem with using Styrofoam™ cups is that these cups cannot be recycled. Though polystyrene foam can be recycled in some areas, food products cannot. Styrofoam™ takes 1,000 years to degrade, which only means that the chemicals begin to break down leach into the groundwater and soil. It does not truly "biodegrade" away into nothing. Plastic cups can sometimes be recycled, which is obviously a better option.

Instead of using polystyrene foam cups for your morning coffee, consider purchasing a reusable travel mug. You can either make coffee or tea at home and bring it with you, or stop at your favorite coffee shop to have it filled. Some coffee shops will even offer a discount if you use their proprietary mug, and all you need to do is wash the cup at the end of the day. Unless it is absolutely necessary when you are having a party or small gathering, consider using reusable utensils, plates and cups.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Share
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.