Foam #6, commonly referred to as Styrofoam—a trademark of Dow Chemical Company, is also known as expanded polystyrene or EPS. Despite bans on the product, recycling of it continues to grow. What many officials who propose bans are unaware of, is the benefits of EPS such as a lower carbon footprint and reduced weight and fuel consumption. In addition, more recycling locations for foam continue to open up and make the process available.
Dart Container Corporation has opened recycling drop-off locations across America as a part of an initiative to bring awareness to the importance of foam recycling. Their sponsored recycling centers have helped make the process more accessible to not only businesses, but consumers and schools as well.
Recycling foam is beneficial for many reasons. Polystyrene is extremely valuable once it has been compacted and the price for EPS even exceeds that of other materials in some markets. New technology for recycling foam has improved the process immensely. Not only has the recycling process become much more efficient, the ability to compact the foam has greatly improved.
The process for recycling expanded polystyrene and making the foam into new products is also relatively simple. Compared with other conversion processes, the emission of greenhouse gasses is significantly lower. Foam recycling is beneficial for businesses as well as for the environment. Instead of purchasing new materials to make products, businesses can maximize profits while being environmentally conscious by using their recycled products.
Why then are foam bans on the rise? Foam #6 has been wrongly labeled as harmful or bad for the environment, when in fact it is the opposite. Many have chosen to be in favor of foam bans as a way to improve the widespread problem of littering. However, banning a single product, let alone a recyclable one, is not the way to fix it. The benefits of EPS are numerous and with the growing number of recycling centers, foam bans are hurting more than they are helping.