Of all the types of waste that pollute our planet, styrofoam is one of the absolute worst. That’s because unlike many types of waste that take decades or even centuries to degrade, styrofoam never degrades. And to make matters worse, it’s made out of petroleum and creates pollution when burned.
Fortunately, scientists at Washington State University have developed a plant-based foam that reportedly has none of these drawbacks and actually insulates better than regular Styrofoam. The new foam, which is made of wood pulp-derived cellulose, is also said to support 200 times its own weight without deforming. It also degrades thoroughly and doesn’t produce ash when incinerated. The team is now looking at scaling the production process up to an industrial level, utilizing inexpensive feedstocks to create a “commercially viable product” that can replace dirty Styrofoam.