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Weekly Tips | March 04, 2013

Styrofoam Recycling

Oh give me a home without StyrofoamTM, where the peanuts and packaging stray. Where seldom is stored bags of mounded foamboard, and the contents are carted away. Do you have foam on the range? Have you been hoarding StyrofoamTM for the last 20 years hoping for the day you could recycle it? That day has arrived! Several businesses in the Puget Sound region now accept StyrofoamTM so you can rest assured it’s recycled, or (even better) re-used!

StyrofoamTM blocks, like the ones used to package electronics, are recycled by the following businesses in the Puget Sound area. In their new life, StyrofoamTM blocks are ground up, compressed and manufactured into picture frames, TV & computer cases, office equipment and other plastic products.

Ecofoam | IKEA | Pak Mail | PostNet | Styro Recycle

StyrofoamTM peanuts can be reused in your own home or by dropping them off at one of the mail stores and businesses below. Unless, of course, old newspaper, biodegradable peanuts or ExpandOS have been substituted instead!

Accents | Bedrock Industries | ChefShop | Ecofoam | IKEA | Pak Mail | PostNet | Styro Recycle | UPS Stores

StyrofoamTM meat trays and take-out containers are now accepted at Styro Recycle, where they are recycled into plastic for new products. Please Note: Trays and containers must be clean before dropping off and colors separated.

Light brown meat trays: Recognize these? They might look like StyrofoamTM, but they’re actually made from corn material(1) and are compostable in Seattle and Issaquah. These cities have ordinances (2)(3) banning the use of Styrofoam in food that’s packaged in City limits. So toss that tray right in with your food scraps!

Curbside Collection: Are you a resident of Des Moines, WA? CleanScapes now collects StyrofoamTM blocks at your curb upon request. E-mail or call (206) 762-4900 to schedule a pick-up.

The Big Picture

As a nation, we throw away 1,329 tons of StyrofoamTM daily and only 10-12% gets recycled(4). Technically called Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), StyrofoamTM is actually only about 5% polystyrene. The rest is air(5). That means that here in the U.S. where StyrofoamTM makes up to 30% of our quickly disappearing landfill space, we’re paying disposal costs on air.

Most computers, electronics, and appliances are still packaged and shipped in StyrofoamTM blocks. Though researchers are busy trying to come up with an alternative(6), today’s StyrofoamTM is made from petroleum, which does not biodegrade, and poses a number of problems in the solid waste system. It isn’t easily sorted on a commercial recycling line so cannot be combined with other recyclables in your curbside cart. To help with the problem, StyrofoamTM food packaging is now banned in over 20 U.S. cities(7).


Sources: (1) Mother Nature Network | (2) City of Issaquah | (3) City of Seattle | (4) eHow | (5) | (6) Fast CoExist | (7) Green Living Tips



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