For years, we've lived with North American misuse of the word Styrofoam.
But instead of correcting people, maybe the real solution is to give them a better name for the product.
How about a cutesy name? The Europeans have come up with one: Airpop.
It's surprising, really, because the Europeans don't have the same polystyrene problem that's so commonplace in the United States and Canada. Over here, if you stop someone on the street and ask them the name of the plastic used to make expanded polystyrene coffee cups, egg cartons and foam packaging, I guarantee that more than 90 percent will call it 'styrofoam."
Even Plastics News has been forced to use the term incorrectly a couple of dozen times over the last 25 years. Most often, the problem is when an elected official gives us a quote using the wrong term. So we're stuck — either we the wrong word, or we don't use the quote.
The fact is, Styrofoam is a Dow Chemical Co. trademark, for extruded polystyrene insulation. Not drink cups.
Enter the Europeans with a possible solution.
At the Interpack trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, last week, a group called the European Manufacturers of Expanded Polystyrene (EuMEPS), helped launch a promotional campaign aimed at getting the public to start calling expanded PS "Airpop."
“But why give a new name to an internationally established material like EPS?” Eumeps asked. “Simply because the name Airpop immediately brings to mind what the material is made of — It's air.