Aside from plastic pollution, the world also has a big problem when it comes to styrofoam – those ubiquitous materials often used as disposable coffee cups, coolers, or as protective packaging cushion for appliances and others.
Suffice it to say that styrofoam is considered an environmental hazard since they create a lot of waste. In California, for example, only 1% of styrofoam is being recycyled, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Fortunately, one boy is doing something about the problem.
Meet young inventor Ashton Cofer who, along with his team of three other students, have found a better way to recycle styrofoam.
First and foremost, recycling styrofoam is often considered too expensive compared with recycling plastic, for example. On top of that, there is always the risk of potential contamination that’s why styrofoam recycling is not as widely done.
Thanks to Ashton and his team, that may soon change.
Ashton shared in his TED talk:
“My team hypothesized that we could use the carbon that is already in styrofoam to create activated carbon, which is used in almost every water filter today.”
He further explained:
“Activated carbon works by using very small micropores to filter out contaminants from water or even air.”
By his own admission, it was a series of trial-and-error but the good thing was the team never gave up.
As Ashton enthusiastically said about their discovery:
“With the right temperatures, times, and chemicals, we finally got that successful test result showing us that we had created activated activated carbon from styrofoam waste.”
So yes, through this award-winning project, these brilliant kids were able to reduce styrofoam waste and create activated carbon for purifying water, “solving two global problems with just one solution,” he remarked.
Watch Ashton Cofer’s full TED speech here:
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