Foam Misconceptions

August 28, 2013

While polystyrene foam foodservice items, such as takeout containers and cups, are a convenience that many consumers enjoy, these items are actually made of recyclable material. In a letter to the Renton Patch Editor, Marilyn Lauderdale, owner of Styro Recycle LLC, a polystyrene foam recycling organization located near Seattle, WA, wants to make sure consumers understand that not only are foam products a convenient and economical choice, but they can be recycled and most often are the best choice for the environment compared with alternative products. Polystyrene (PS) foam products are often mistakenly called Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.

Lauderdale’s Styro Recycle LLC provides foam drop-off and pick-up services for residents within her Renton, WA, community. While the lack of access to companies like hers may be one excuse for not recycling foam products, Lauderdale concludes that a larger problem is that most residents are not educated on their ability to recycle foam. She states that city leaders need to correct the misconception about foam products and focus on educating their constituents about the recyclable product. In her letter, Lauderdale goes on to make the point that foam products are not only recyclable, but also have a lower carbon footprint than popular alternatives and save money in shipping costs.

While some residents might be hesitant or unfamiliar with idea of recycling foam, Lauderdale praises local school districts that have recently implemented foam lunch tray recycling programs. The community has taken on the task of teaching students to responsibly dispose of their discarded materials. Through this, the school districts are educating students on the importance of viewing foam the same as any other recyclable material.

Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation is another institution encouraging individuals and businesses to recycle foam products. The company has launched the CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) and Recycla-Pak programs to promote the recycling of single-use foam cups. Dart’s CARE program provides users with a device to compress foam waste to a fraction of its original size, which is then purchased by manufacturers for use in the production of new items. Recycla-Pak is a mail-back program for foam cups.

Source: Renton Patch