May 13, 2019

Can Polystyrene Packaging Foam Be Recycled


Can Polystyrene Protective Packaging Foam Be Recycled?

It’s one of the most confusing aspects of recycling today: what can be recycled and who’s willing to recycle it for you? There is one particularly confusing material that stands out from the rest when it comes time to get rid of it—expanded polystyrene aka EPS foam aka “Styrofoam”(spoiler alert: it’s not actually Styrofoam).

One thing that’s immediately clear is that EPS is on its way out. The fact that EPS foam comprises 30% of American landfill volume speaks volumes about the current dilemma that online shoppers face—everything is so convenient! But almost everything is also still packaged in protective EPS foam or packing peanuts. Major cities and counties have taken notice and are outlawing EPS faster than you can say “Alexa, where’s my Prime order?”— for instance, the entire state of Maine has completely banned single-use EPS foam food containers.

But until the day comes when everyone has phased out the use of EPS foam, consumers have to know how to properly dispose of this material. So…can you toss it in your blue recycling bin?

Unfortunately, there’s a reason that so much of it is sitting around not decomposing in our landfills. It’s nowhere near profitable to process it for recycling, with an estimated $1,000 worth of processing needed to reclaim roughly $200 worth of usable material. So while it technically can be recycled, it more than likely won’t be recycled. However, there are some local recycling plants that will take it, so be sure to check if anyone accepts it in your neighborhood.

Since the recycling rate of EPS is so low, what should be done to cut down on how much EPS foam winds up stacked in our landfills? Reducing our usage of the material or choosing not to use EPS is key, as the first step toward eliminating it is no longer using it. Many local governments have taken the lead in eliminating or at least restricting the use of EPS, especially in the case of food and beverage to-go containers. For a more extensive list of cities with ordinances against polystyrene, check out this Surfrider Foundation page.


About EPE – Your Sustainable Packaging Company 

At EPE we have the knowledge and capabilities to create 100% environmentally compliant packaging solutions for every product. We’re proud to have developed groundbreaking solutions for a cleaner, more eco-friendly future.

We optimize your product package by utilizing the exact amount of cushioning material required to protect your products in transit with 100% recyclable and sustainable materials.

Our proprietary packaging designs provide better product protection without polystyrene foam, and they also lower dimensional weight to get you more bang for your freight buck. If you’d like to save money and help us save the planet, visit us today and see what our 21st century solutions can do for you!