Styrofoam coolers are lightweight, cheap, and pretty good at keeping beverages cold.
They’re also pretty bad for the environment.
Styrofoam is Dow Chemical’s trademarked name for extruded polystyrene, and in addition to being conveniently disposable, it’s also a source of greenhouse gases, doesn’t degrade for centuries, and is highly flammable. Oh, and animals confuse it for food and could eat enough of it and die.
Igloo’s come up with a less destructive alternative made out of paraffin wax and recycled paper called RECOOL. The 16-quart cooler has a weight capacity of 75 pounds and is highly water resistant. Igloo says the RECOOL can keep ice cold for up to 12 hours and hold water for up to five days without leaking.
The RECOOL is not a single-use alternative, the coolers can be stored and reused many times over (though Igloo doesn’t specify how many uses) and once the cooler is no longer usable, it can be recycled or composted. It can also be used as a dry storage tote as well.
Unlike a typical foam cooler, the RECOOL doesn’t chip or break if bumped or dropped. Igloo also claims that the RECOOL doesn’t squeak, although some kids might be disappointed by the lack of sounds effects.
Ry Crist of C|Net put the RECOOL through some testing and found the cooler could maintain a 40 degrees F temperature (with an ambient reading of 70 degrees F) for about 15 hours before starting to warm up. While C|Net didn’t test a foam cooler under similar conditions, the RECOOL offers solid cooling performance and gives consumers little excuse for using foam instead.
RECOOL is available now in stores such as REI and Target for $10.