A non-profit waste management company based out of Cleveland, OH is taking advantage of the need for local businesses to dispose of their used polystyrene foam products in a proactive and responsible manner. The Buckeye Industries Eastlake location has started collecting used foam materials from local residents and organizations at no charge in order to recycle the used product and put it to good use. Consumers often mistakenly refer to polystyrene foam items as Styrofoam®, which is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. The material often makes up several forms of single-use foodservice and packaging products consumers use, such as take-away food containers and shipping materials for sensitive items.
While the service of hauling away a truckload of used foam items could potentially cost area companies anywhere from $250 to $700, Buckeye Industries collects foam products for free in order to recycle it and produce a new end-product. After compressing and processing the foam, the raw material is recycled and turned into dense bricks of foam. These bricks are then sold to manufacturing companies who use the new product in the production of consumer goods, such as filler for picture frames and crown molding. The cycle of this process allows Buckeye Industries to take a single-use, throw-away item and not only develop a new economic opportunity, but remove it from local waste streams. Another way the non-profit is contributing to their community is by hiring individuals who are developmental disabled to help sort through the collected foam.
Buckeye Industries shipped more than 97,000 pounds of polystyrene foam in 2013, and hopes to increase this number in 2014. The more foam they are able to collect and process, the more members of the community they are able to keep employed. Recycling polystyrene foam materials is not a new concept in the U.S. Several organizations and cities, including 65 in California alone, have partnered to develop successful recycling programs meant to decrease the amount of foam sent to local landfills and create new manufacturing opportunities. Rather than ban the material because of its single-use nature, many organizations are now seeking to capitalize on the opportunities of economic development and environment responsibility capable through the recycling of polystyrene foam.