Plastic #6 (Polystyrene)


The #6 identifies the resin of the plastic which makes polystyrene, but the arrows around the number do not mean that it is recyclable. This type of plastic is either hard of soft (foam, also known as Styrofoam). Both should go in the landfill.

Foam polystyrene, like that found in packaging, is made of mostly air. A special machine is required to remove the air and condense the material into a patty or block for resale. These foam products have little value because once the air is removed, very little material remains.

The University of California has restricted vendors from using foam in packaging beginning in 2020 and it has been banned 116 cities across California.


Packaging Materials Are Not Recyclable

Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are plastic #6, so they are generally not recyclable. Yet there are many alternatives for disposing of packaging material. Find out how to dispose of packing peanuts or bubble wrap.


Takeout Containers Are Not Recyclable

Styrofoam takeout containers are made from plastic #6, so they are generally not recyclable. Even where some styrofoam products are recycled, takeout containers are often not accepted because they are difficult to sanitize.


Pay Attention to Proper Disposal

Plastic #6 is a lightweight material that easily finds its way into the environment, where it can leach toxic chemicals.

Did You Know?

Plankton Eating Polystyrene

In the ocean, plastic is being consumed all the way down the food chain. For the first time ever, scientists have recorded plankton eating tiny polystyrene beads. Find out more at New Scientist.

Plastic in Our Bodies

Styrene, a component of polystyrene, has been found in 100 percent of human fat tissue samples dating back to 1986. It is known to cause cancer in animals, and suspected to be both cancerous and a neurotoxin for humans. Find out more from