The latest EPS recycling report was just released by the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR). The 2010 report shows a considerable increase in the EPS recycling percentage over the 2008 report, even during a poor economy when less EPS was sold.
EPS used for shape molding applications such as packaging has one of the highest recycling rates of all plastics, increasing from 19.5% in 2008 to 28% in 2010.
This is encouraging news as many people are still unaware that EPS and Styrofoam are recyclable. Based on the calls we receive, the concept of recycling EPS packaging is still new to many companies.
One of the hurdles to EPS recycling is collection and transportation. Many communities do not accept PS, EPS or Styrofoam at the neighborhood recycling center and very few communities accept Styrofoam in the curbside recycling program limiting the collection of post-consumer EPS.
A second hurdle that goes hand in hand with collection is a lack of compacting and densification equipment at the community recycling centers. Due to the bulkiness and light weight of EPS packaging, it should normally be compacted into a dense form before it is shipped to a plastics processor for recycling. Compacting the foam, which is approximately 98% air, makes transportation economical. Once a community decides it would like to add EPS and Styrofoam to their recycling program, a compactor specifically designed to densify EPS should be acquired.
As more communities add EPS and Styrofoam to their recycling programs, the recycling percentages for this material will continue to climb.