Bean bags are a fun addition to any home, loved by children and adults alike. You can get bean bags in all shapes and sizes as well as styles; big colourful ones great for children's bedrooms, or sleek and stylish for a modern home.
Although a bean bag is a simple addition to the home, disposing of it can have its complications, depending on what they are made from. Some bean bags can have unnatural filling, such as foam or memory foam chunks. While others will have natural fillings such as beans, buckwheat husks or rice.
Can you recycle bean bags?
Depending on the filling used within your bean bag disposal can differ. You will want to always ensure that when throwing away your bean bag and its filling, you are being responsible and disposing of it in the most eco-friendly way.
Foam / Memory foam
If your bean bag is filled with foam or memory foam it will prove difficult to dispose of; as these materials, for the most part, are not recyclable. If you can find any uses for the foam it would be preferable to try and reuse it. You could use it for existing items or something you plan on making. Otherwise, you will want to search for any local organisations that deal with foam recycling, before throwing it away.
Polystyrene beans are the most common filling in bean bags. They are small expanded beads of polystyrene, are mostly used because they are very lightweight and do the same job as something like foam.
Thankfully, expanded polystyrene is fully recyclable nowadays; and you should always recycle when you have the option. Without recycling, polystyrene will take around 1,000 years to break down in normal landfill sites. They will also poison the soil and surrounding areas. Check with you local recycling centres to see if they will accept polystyrene.
If you are unable to find a recycling centre to dispose of your filling; then try finding a way to repurpose and reuse the filling. Polystyrene beads can have multiple uses, for example in packaging or as insulation.
If none of the above is possible; try advertising the beads on a selling platform like Facebook marketplace or Gumtree, to see if anyone else needs them.
Are polystyrene beads toxic?
Polystyrene beads received the lowest possible rating on the Hazardous Material Identification System scale.
The main issue that can come from being around polystyrene beads, is the dust that the little balls can attract. And as there are thousands of them, when disrupted, can lead to a large amount of dust. This can in turn cause coughing and irritation. However, when contained in something such as a bean bag shell, should not cause any problems. There are also questions about polystyrene being carcinogenic; however there are several studies that have disproven this.
Ultimately, when disposing of a bean bag, first take into consideration the filling. This will determine your disposal. The outer shell will usually be made of material which can be recycled with other materials at a recycling centre. Just always make sure to consider other uses for your bean bag or its material before disposing. This is the most environmentally friendly option.