Polystyrene foam recycling efforts are gaining momentum and popularity, as recent stories suggest. These real-world foam recovery stories tap into both corporate and residential potential for expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam recycling movements. Demands from citizens in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, to reroute more household waste materials towards community recycling programs are in part due to large residential educational efforts. Colchester County has mobilized its citizens through a web widget and phone app, in addition to bulk mailings, newsletters and emails. The county particularly focused its efforts on recycling meat-trays, which has proven to be successful thus far.
Similar to county-based efforts to rally citizens, corporations in Nova Scotia, like Valley Waste Resource Management (VWRM), have enlightened citizens on the high cost of waste removal. Because VWRM typically ships its garbage an hour away, increased efforts to recycle foam #6 reduce transportation costs and reduce the number of trips to a landfill.
Companies in a wide range of markets are continuously discovering new ways to develop PS foam collection and processing. Both residential and corporate efforts, as those in Nova Scotia illustrate, are gathering global support and beginning to tap into new markets and industries. Progress in practices of PS foam recycling may even have the potential to settle public debate about the need for bans on foam in large cities, such as San Francisco.
Recycled foam #6 can be used to make everyday items that most consumers do not think of such as insulation for homes and buildings, picture frames, crown molding, plastic lumber, and dense bricks among many others.
Foam recycling also can improve the economy. The process of compacting and recycling EPS foam has the potential to provide thousands of jobs each year. Using foam can save school districts considerable costs for lunch trays. Similarly, bans on foam likely will hurt small businesses, costing industries like the restaurant industry thousands of dollars because alternate products typically are far more expensive than foam products.
As EPS foam recycling efforts grow from the bottom up and as citizens and companies become more educated on the life of recycled foam, PS foam practices will soon be recognized as the most economically and environmentally savvy option.