Help me get rid of large chunks of styrofoam.
December 19, 2005 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Hints on how to discard enormous pieces of styrofoam?

Lots of big items come with very large blocks of styrofoam packing. If they're thick, they're very difficult to break into smaller pieces, especially without making a mess and expending a lot of physical effort. Also hard to get into even huge garbage bags. Is there a better way? Oh -- and I have no space to keep this stuff for potential future needs. Thanks.
posted by young_simba to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
Pour gasoline on it, watch it melt. Clean up. No smoking!
posted by Makebusy7 at 11:32 AM on December 19, 2005

Oh I didn't read the part about "without making a mess."
posted by Makebusy7 at 11:34 AM on December 19, 2005

Post it on Craigslist (or similar announcement venue) as free packing material. Lots of eBay sellers are out there trying to scrounge up stuff like this.
posted by winston at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2005

I don't know what it's like in the US but your local refuse collection should do special requests if you ask for it.
posted by ninebelow at 12:05 PM on December 19, 2005

I have been wondering this myself for a long time. My thinking is that everybody must get these pieces of styrofoam that won't fit in a regular-sized garbage can. What do they do with them?

Me, I break them into small pieces and put a piece into the garbage can whenever there's extra room. So, it takes me months to get rid of them.

There has to be a better way. Come on people!
posted by Hildago at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2005

Call your sanitation authority and ask if they have a transfer station open to residents. I've used mine to dump old carpeting and packing materials when the garbageman wouldn't take them.
posted by Opposite George at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2005

I have seen listings for all kinds of packing material on, though I cannot remember specifically any moulded stuff.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on December 19, 2005

Build a space station.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:29 PM on December 19, 2005

Following the first link provided by dhartung, I found this map of recycling locations for Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging.

A bit off-putting, the list has phone numbers but not addresses. Still, if you live or work in one of the cities that is listed, it seems worth a call.
posted by WestCoaster at 2:30 PM on December 19, 2005

Most UPS stores (formerly mailbox etc) will take (and re-use) your styrofoam packaging.

I wouldn't recommend pouring gas on it-- although the byproduct is a handy epoxy and a deadly gas.
posted by linklog at 2:35 PM on December 19, 2005

Hmm, my space station link didn't work.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:43 PM on December 19, 2005

I was thinking of contacting a shipping store --bet they'd take it.
posted by orlin at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2005

I think Winston's post is the best idea. When I was a shipping manager we used to scrounge like crazy, and we were quite willing to break apart as needed.
posted by Kickstart70 at 6:09 PM on December 19, 2005

I had no idea about shippers wanting the stuff. Thank you for asking this question, and thank you for the answers -- I suspect you've made roughly 20 000 lives easier!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:55 PM on December 19, 2005

I think you can also use acetone to dissolve the stuff. Used surgically you might be able to goop just enough on there to melt it to the point where you can break it down into sizeable pieces.

Failing that, I'd put it in a sealed trash bag (perhaps double-bagged) and just beat the hell out of it - jump up and down on it if necessary, use a hammer, etc.. You should be able to confine all the mess to the bag, while still breaking it up.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:00 PM on December 19, 2005

I'd never have thought to ask this -- I'm so glad someone did.

If I have any large pots that need planting, I break up a big chunk of polystyrene into small pieces and use it in the bottom of the pot to fill the space, save on potting mix and provide good air flow. It's also described in dhartung's link above.
posted by tracicle at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2005

We do the potting thing as well. It also makes it easier to move the big pots.
posted by sagwalla at 2:35 AM on December 20, 2005

Portable sander. Just handy to have ANY WAY. But then, it might be hard to break down with one in a less-than-messy way.
posted by antifuse at 4:09 AM on December 20, 2005

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