Industry Seeks to Clarify Foam Fallacies in the Southeast

October 05, 2015

The foam industry has ramped up its educational efforts throughout the southeastern region of the United States, seeking to clear up misconceptions that persistently malign polystyrene product. Foam is the preferred food container for many governments, school boards, and business owners in states from Arkansas to Tennessee because of its affordability and effectiveness. But what many people don’t know is that these foam products are recyclable, too.

The foam industry aims to educate the public about the availability of foam recycling. There are dozens of foam recycling centers across the country and nine in the American Southeast region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The South also boasts a number of companies that create and distribute products made with recycled polystyrene.

Piedmont Plastics – based in Charlotte, North Carolina – is one of the nation’s leading distributors of repurposed polystyrene. Once North Carolina’s foam is cleaned, heated, and densified, it can be made into a number of products, including rulers, surfboards, picture frames, and garden nursery trays. It can also be used for architectural molding and as a component of building infrastructures. North Carolina foam recycling company Piedmont Plastics specifically uses polystyrene for foam boards, screen-printing, and frames.

Misconceptions regarding polystyrene foam begin with the name. Contrary to popular belief, polystyrene and Styrofoam are two distinctly different materials. Polystyrene foam is used for a variety of products, including food packaging products, while Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company that is used for insulation purposes.

Foam recycling has become more prevalent nationwide. In October 2014, the EPS Industry Alliance reported that the recycling rate of polystyrene foam climbed to 35% in 2013. This rate is up nearly 5% year-over-year, and has climbed steadily since 1991. This figure represents a total of 127.3 million pounds of post-commercial and post-consumer packaging, as well as post-industrial recovery foam that was processed and recycled in 2013. The rate will only continue to climb as more people in the South – from Louisiana to Georgia and up to Kentucky – learn the truth about the benefits of foam recycling.

Polystyrene cups and trays are designed to keep hot things hot, cold things cold, and carbonated liquids carbonated. Polystyrene’s practicality and price make it a top choice for business owners, governments, and schools, and the recycling possibilities that it presents should make it a top choice for environmentalists. The foam industry hopes that its efforts to correct misconceptions about polystyrene will serve to improve foam’s reputation throughout the Southeast.