Polystyrene Recycling: What You Need to Know

June 26, 2017

As some states, cities, and communities debate expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam bans, misconceptions and false information inevitably arise. Foam opponents often argue that foam is not recyclable, or that it’s bad for human and environmental health, but this simply isn’t the case. Polystyrene foam—or foam #6—is a misunderstood material that, in reality, offers many environmental and economic benefits.

Below, we’ve answered some common questions about polystyrene foam and foam recycling.

Can Foam Be Recycled?

While access is limited, foam can be recycled. In fact, foam is recycled in cities, towns, and communities across the country. Foam recycling can directly lead to job growth and better environmental habits.

Why Should I Recycle Foam #6?

Recycling polystyrene foam has many environmental benefits such as energy saving, pollution prevention, and solid waste reduction, but an easy way to measure foam recycling’s impact is looking at the products that foam recycling produces. When foam is properly recycled, it can be remade into everyday items like picture frames, nursery trays, rulers, and ballpoint pens. EPS is also a thermoplastic, meaning is can be recycled many times over.

Where Can I Recycle Foam?

Foam recycling is available in communities across the country. Some areas provide curbside pick-up services, while others maintain drop-off centers. And for areas that do not have foam recycling available, there are mail-in options for individuals and businesses looking to recycle their foam. To see if foam recycling is available in your community, check out this interactive map.

The What, Where, Why & How of Foam Recycling

We’ve answered the questions above and more in an infographic: “The What, Where, Why & How of Foam Recycling.” We urge you to share this information with friends and family to spread the word about foam recycling and clear up misconceptions and false information about this durable, low-cost material.