Hey, Jennifer Jarland! Can I Recycle Styrofoam?

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! Can I Recycle Styrofoam?

large foam cups

Hey, Jennifer Jarland!

Can I recycle Styrofoam?

Jennifer says:

Yes! But first things first — Styrofoam is a brand name for polystyrene foam, much like Kleenex is a brand name for tissues. So what we are really talking about #6 polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic foam.

This kind of foam is generally found in block form in electronics or appliance boxes; as plates, bowls, cups and clamshell containers; and as packing peanuts or as my dear aunty calls them, “ghost poop.” These shapes of #6 polystyrene ARE recyclable — but not in your curbside recycling bin, please!

It is important to note that the bendy kinds of foam blocks are not recyclable at all. The #6 foam blocks are generally identifiable by the way they would snap if you were to try to bend them.

I have heard that some people believe that polystyrene foam can go in the blue recycling bin at the curb, but this is not the case. The material recovery facilities do not separate this material, as it is often soiled or broken up by the time it reaches them, so it ends up as a discard at the end of the sorting process and is ultimately landfilled.

The #6 block foam and rinsed-clean food service items can be recycled at Dart Container Corp, 310 Evergreen Drive in North Aurora. The drop-off is open 24/7. Contact them at www.dart.biz or 630-896-4631. The foam is not made into new foam products, but is marketed by a third party agent to remanufacturers who make polymer-based products such as CD jewel cases, plastic screens for remote controls, and even picture frames.

Shipping and packing stores will reuse clean, bagged, and unmixed foam packing peanuts. Call your local UPS or FedEx store. Or contact the Peanut Hotline at www.epspackaging.org or 800-828-2214 to find your closest location.

Also Save the Date

Kane County will be including these materials in the Annual Recycling Extravaganza on Saturday, June 13, 2015. We will be collecting clean bubble wrap too!

As a final note, please consider avoiding the use of polystyrene and instead use readily recyclable paper packing products and reusable washable food service items. Much of this material makes its way to the landfill or becomes a principle component of urban litter or marine debris. Polystyrene is very slow to biodegrade and can take up to hundreds of years to deteriorate in the environment or landfill.

More recycling information can be found at www.countyofkane.org/recycling.


Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or recycle@countyofkane.org

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