Foam Recycling Works

April 15, 2012

Can Styrofoam ™ be Recycled?

Polystyrene foam, sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘Styrofoam®’, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, can be recycled at the proper recycling centers. In fact, Dart recycles enough energy a year to heat over 105,000 homes. With programs like CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) and Recycla-Pak, customers can enjoy the benefits of using insulated foam cups.

Using foam makes sense because foam cups insulate better than plastic-coated paper cups. Paper cup users will often stack two cups together in order to protect their hand from hot temperatures – this practice alone doubles the amount of waste for plastic-coated paper cups over foam cups.

Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program makes it easy to recycle. For large operators, the CARE program will separate the foam from other products, consolidate the collected material, and arrange to have it recycled. Recycled foam foodservice products can be reprocessed into plastic lumber and many other products.

How to Recycle Styrofoam ™ for Post-Consumer/End User:

As a consumer, you should first, separate the foam items from other material (e.g. paper, cans, bottles, other plastics). Then make sure that the items are clean. Once the items are clean and separated, you can drop-off the recyclable material at one of Dart’s recycling facilities.

Polystyrene recycling requires that polystyrene foam material should be placed in transparent plastic bags and tagged with your name and/or organization and telephone number.


How Foam Recycling Works:

Recycling Facility diagarm1. When foam products have been collected and baled or densified, they are transported to a recycling center.
2. The foam is inspected, manually sorted to remove large contaminants, and placed onto a conveyer.
3. The conveyor transports the foam to a grinder where the material is broken into “fluff.”
4. The fluff is stored in a silo.
5. The fluff is mixed with other foam.
6. The mixed foam is sent to an extruder. The extruder compresses and heats the fluff until it becomes molten (liquid).
7. The molten foam is then squeezed through the pelletizer where a spinning blade chops the foam into pellets. The pellets are then cooled and placed in a dryer to remove excess water.
8. The pellets are packaged. They can then be used, just like original raw material, to manufacture again.
9. The packages are shipped to manufactures of recycled-content products.

Where to Recycle Styrofoam ™

Find a local foam recycling center.

* Styrofoam ® is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company