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Name: Vicky
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000

Is it bad to burn Polystyrene foam in a campfire?

Years ago, expanded polystyrene (polystyrene foam) was "expanded" with CFC gases, probably because CFCs were cheap, easily available and easy to use. As concerns with ozone depletion emerged, producers of polystyrene foam in industrialized nations joined aerosol packagers in switching to safer gases (principally nitrogen) for propellant and expansion of polystyrene foam. Without trapped CFCs, combustion of polystyrene yields CO2 and water, some odd volatile pieces, and carbon soot (due to the unsaturated bonds). But, why burn polystyrene foam? It is one of the most under-recycled substances in the world today. It requires less resources (particularly water) to recycle than paper (too bad McDonalds went to paper boxes!) Producers of egg cartons and meat trays beg and plead with municipalities to include EPS and PS in their collections so they can "make it go around again." Granted, it can be a hassle to carry recyclable materials out again when camping, but a good stainless steel "Sierra cup" easily washes clean and is a lifetime investment for camping. My opinion: burying the cup is better than tossing it in the weeds, burning it "leaves less of a trace", but the best option is to use only replaceable/refillable/reuseable equipment that you take with you when you leave the campsite.

Tim Spry

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