Recycling Q&A: How Should I Recycle Styrofoam?

Recycling Q&A: How Should I Recycle Styrofoam?

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling Q&A tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Q: How Do I Recycle Styrofoam?

I frequently get questions about recycling polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, 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 materials ARE recyclable — but not in your curbside recycling bin, please!

A: Here Is Where You CAN Recycle These Materials

SOURCE: A-Z list online


Styrofoam, Polystyrene, Styrene: Dart Container Corp, 310 Evergreen Dr., North Aurora, 630-896-4631,

The recycle drop-off is open 24/7. Accepted items include block foam and clean food containers. NO straws, cup lids, paper, or packing peanuts. If dropping a large load, please call for an appointment.

Also Save the Date: Kane County will be including block foam and food service foam in the Annual Recycling Extravaganza on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Packing Peanuts: Shipping and packing stores will reuse clean, bagged and unmixed foam peanuts. Call your local UPS store or contact the Peanut Hotline at, 800-828-2214.

An Inside Look at DART

In late February, I went on a tour of the DART facility, where they manufacture food service polystyrene and paper products, to see the behind the scenes of their successful foam recycling operation.

See full list of acceptable items here.


DART collects the foam and bales it (puts into blocks for shipping) onsite in North Aurora. 


They operate two densifier machines to prepare the foam for shipping, one of them is for the block foam and the other for the food service foam.

This process prepares them for shipping

Non-Recyclable Block Foam

It is important to note that the bendy kinds of foam blocks are not recyclable at all.

The recyclable kind of foam blocks are identifiable by the way they would snap if you were to try to bend them.


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 cash register tape rolls, picture frames, and molding.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

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

Questions: Kane County Recycling Coordinator, Jennifer Jarland, 630-208-3841,

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