In the News

April 17, 2012

School District Adopts Successful Foam Recycling Program

In Long Beach California, the school district uses foam products everyday. Foam trays are used to keep material cost low and minimize exposure to bacteria and other foodborne pathogens. Long Beach school district not only finds polystyrene products economical, but convenient, insulated and highly sanitized.[i]

A typical polystyrene lunch tray costs around 3 cents compared to a biodegradable tray that can cost between 15 to 25 cents, said Cecelia Slater, the director of Nutrition Services. Using polystyrene products saves more than a million dollars each year for the school district.[ii]

Long Beach school district built a successful recycling program thanks to the help of Dart Container Corporation. Today, 90% of the school districts’ foam lunch trays are recycled. Dart serves 13 school districts in California and recycles about 1 million foam trays each month, according to Michael Westerfield, corporate director of Dart’s recycling program.

The only cost to the school district is the cost to take the trays to the recycling facility. Slater said, “It’s our expense to get it there, but it’s taking the trash out of our environment, and we feel pretty good about that.

The city of Long Beach collects foam to be recycled at the nearby Dart facilities. Dart’s recycling facilities will clean and compress foam products to make other material. Recyclable foam products in Long Beach include foam cups and containers, packaging, such as eggshell cartons, block packing, and clamshell packaging. More than 40 cities and counties in California have adopted curbside recycling programs for polystyrene containers.

[i] Jeremy Carroll, Update – Some School Districts Get Jump on Possible Foam Ban in Calif. (undated), WASTE & RECYCLING NEWS, available at

[ii] Kelly Puente, Recyclable Foam Trays a Cure for Long Beach Schools’ Headache, PRESS-TELEGRAM, May 19, 2011, available at


Source: Plastic News