Economic Impact

The foam industry provides thousands of jobs and saves schools, businesses, consumers, and government agencies millions of dollars every year. Polystyrene foam benefits Chicago by offering superior value, increased efficiency, and strong economic solutions across the city.

Foam has an understated value in America. It lowers costs on local businesses, leading to more jobs, which fuel the city’s economy. Recycled polystyrene is extremely valuable because of its versatility. Once it’s recycled into pellets, manufacturers nationwide can use polystyrene for insulation.

Foam recycling programs have saved some schools between 20-40% on material collection fees. [ii]

Chicago school districts also rely on foam to keep costs down because a foam tray costs significantly less than popular alternatives. [i] By investing in education instead of cafeteria trays, the city’s schools can better serve their teachers, students, and communities.

Furthermore, foam products help Chicago’s restaurants stay in business. From deep-dish pizza to traditional sausages and kielbasas, Chicago offers locals and tourists alike an authentic culinary experience. However, many Chicago restaurants operate on razor-thin profit margins and foam products offer them an affordable and effective food storage solution.

Foam is far more economical than alternative materials, as food-grade polystyrene containers are generally two to three times less expensive than the other options. Foam containers provide excellent insulation at a cost-effective price and allow hardworking Chicago business owners – already facing higher prices for food, fuel, and everyday products – to save money in a challenging economic climate.

[i] Kelly Puente, Recyclable Foam Trays a Cure for Long Beach Schools’ Headache, PRESS-TELEGRAM, May 19, 2011, available at

[ii] Franklin Associates, Ltd. Final Peer-Reviewed Report: Life Cycle Inventory of Polystyrene Foam, Bleached Paperboard, and Corrugated Paperboard Foodservice Products (Prepared for The Polystyrene Packaging Council, March 2006).