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Foam Recycling Coalition Forms; Study Shows Recycled Polystyrene Demand Rising

The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) has launched the Foam Recycling Coalition to support the recycling of post-consumer expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging.

As its first project the new recycling coalition commissioned a study to understand end-market demand for post-consumer foam. The Berkley Research Group conducted the study for the Falls Church, Va.-based FPI.

The study showed rising demand for recycled EPS in both domestic and global markets, with nearly 140 companies that process or use recycled post-consumer foam, including food ware, in the United States and Canada, according to a news release.

The coalition’s next step is to establish and fund a proactive, multi-year grant program to assist residential material recovery facilities (MRFs) in recycling post-consumer polystyrene foam. Materials targeted for recovery include polystyrene foam foodservice packaging, such as cups, containers and dinnerware; processor trays; egg cartons; and transport packaging. Public and private businesses that operate MRFs may apply for grants that will provide foam recycling equipment.

Since 2011, FPI’s Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group have been working to overcome real and perceived barriers that limit the recycling and composting of foodservice packaging. “We learned that foam packaging has its own unique set of barriers that warrant special attention,” said FPI President Lynn Dyer. “Not enough market demand has been a perceived barrier to increasing the recovery of foam, but this latest study uncovers growing end markets. The coalition’s grant program will capitalize on the market demand by providing assistance to economically sort, store and transport post-consumer foam and thus, keep this valuable material from going to landfills – and into manufacturing facilities instead.”

The coalition was founded with 13 member companies, which represent the vast majority of the foodservice packaging manufacturing industry in the two countries, the association said.

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