Residents of Pittsburgh, PA, are being encouraged by members of the Pennsylvania Resource Council (PRC) to submit the polystyrene foam used to package recently purchased household appliances for recycling. By partnering with a local appliance warehouse, the PRC is making it possible for those in the Pittsburgh area to easily dispose of unwanted bulky foam in a responsible manner. Polystyrene foam is often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. The material makes up several forms of the large-scale packaging material often used in the shipment and care of household appliances.
Recycling foam blocks is a more environmentally-sound practice than allowing them to end up in a landfill. This program also offers an unexpected economic growth component. Recycled foam can easily be used as a base material in new consumer goods such as picture frames and crown molding. After collection organizations, such as Pittsburgh’s Appliance Warehouse, process and recycle the foam, it is then sold to other manufacturing organizations that can use the raw material to produce new items. Justin Stockdale, a member of the PRC, comments on this idea: “[polystyrene foam] has value downstream” because of its ability to be re-manufactured into a new consumer good. Stockdale also notes the importance of focusing on “finding economical, convenient ways to manage [foam] resources.”
Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation is another institution encouraging individuals and businesses throughout the U.S. to recycle polystyrene foam products, and the company has launched several programs to do just that. The CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program, for example, specifically promotes the recycling of single-use foam cups within individual organizations. The CARE program provides users with their own device to compress foam waste to a fraction of its original size, which is then purchased by manufacturers for use in the production of new consumer goods. Both the process implemented by the PRC and Dart allow an otherwise discarded material to be returned to the consumer purchasing cycle in an environmentally responsible way.
Source: Pittsburgh CBS