Residents of the Highland Park community gathered recently to celebrate major foam recycling efforts made in the area. Specifically focusing on recycling polystyrene foam, more commonly referred to as ‘Styrofoam®’, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, the recycling efforts launched in 2011 have since resulted in the collection of 4,417 pounds of foam waste. Many food carry-out containers are examples of the collected single-use items that contain polystyrene foam.
City officials, including Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, gathered at the Highland Park Firearms Training Center, the drop-off location for foam items, to celebrate the success of this program. One city council member who pushed for the implementation of the program, Steven Mandel, commented, “That’s a lot of foam,” when referring to the over two tons of waste taken off their streets. Because some recycling centers in the area do not accept polystyrene foam products, some residents simply did not understand where to take their foam waste. This program created an educational conversation in regards to how to recycle foam waste in hopes that it further develops in the community, and spreads to other areas.
For Highland Park’s program, Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation collects the foam waste from the drop-off location and brings it to a plant to be recycled. According to Dart’s regional manager of government affairs and the environment, AnnMarie Treglia, because polystyrene is plastic, it can be melted and used to make new products like picture frames and office supplies. Many of the items made from recycled polystyrene foam were on display at the gathering.
This example of community effort is just one of many in the initiative to put more foam recycling programs in place throughout the US. Dart has implemented specific programs to continually promote the importance of polystyrene recycling to consumers. The CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) and Recycla-Pak programs make it easy for any company or organization to recycle single-use foam cups. The CARE program provides users with the densifying device to compress their own foam waste, which is then collected by participating manufacturers.