Project no. 106
Beyond Styrofoam – A Life Cycle Analysis and Eco-
Efficiency Portfolio of Single-Use Containers
(Polystyrene, Plastic, Biodegradable Plastic, Paper,
Annette Misiurak, Frances Ramsay, Xiaoyun Tang, Yuan Yuan
UBC Environmental Science, University of British Columbia
The issue of waste generation is a rising global issue. One of the largest contributors to the
waste stream are single-use containers. Styrofoam represents one of the most commonly
used containers and is unrecyclable unless clean and free of food residue. The City of
Vancouver plans on implementing a Styrofoam ban within the next five years .
Alternatives in the form of recyclable and compostable containers need to be explored to
replace Styrofoam. This project is to compare the environmental impacts of compostable
and recyclable single-use containers and determine businesses’ reasoning behind their
choice of single-use container.
A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) was conducted to determine the environmental impacts of each
respective container from the beginning to end-of-life stage. A survey was conducted at
five restaurants of the UBC Village Basement to comprehend businesses’ motivation behind
their choice of container and the factors that would encourage them to switch to a more
environmentally friendly option.
Figure 1: The relative purchasing cost of various takeout containers (i.e. Aluminum, Polyethylene
Terephthalate, Paper, Corn-Based Polylactic Acid, and Polypropylene) in relation to the relative global
warming potential in kg CO2 equivalent. The containers in the
 City of Vancouver. (2017). Creating a Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy for disposable
cups, take-out containers and shopping bags. Retrieved from