Molded polystyrene foam is one of the most heavily debated materials when it comes to recycling. Many are not aware molded polystyrene packaging is recyclable—and has been recycled successfully by businesses and consumers throughout the United States for over 25 years.
As reflected below, more than 118 million pounds of molded polystyrene was recycled during a calendar year. This figure includes 63.0 million pounds of post-commercial and post-consumer packaging and 55.7 million pounds of post-industrial recovery. Post-consumer and post-commercial recycling are defined as any material that is recycled after its intended end-use – while postindustrial recovery includes molded polystyrene facility scrap that is recycled but never served its intended purpose as a packaging material or other end-use application.
Since 1991, molded polystyrene recycling has demonstrated stable, incremental growth and steady end-use market developments. This growth can be attributed to innovative and sustainable programs specifically geared to molded polystyrene recycling. Businesses and consumers play a key role in reducing the amount of packaging material that enters the waste stream by contributing to a shared-responsibility approach to recycling.
The chart below shows a notable growth for post-consumer and post-commercial recycling. This is supported by a strong reliance on high volume sources and proves the success of industry recycling efforts in the United States. Advances in molded polystyrene recycling technologies, collaborative collection programs and new end-use markets have continued to broaden molded polystyrene recycling opportunities. In addition, the molded polystyrene industry fosters ongoing development of new and innovative recycling initiatives that will promote further molded polystyrene recycling growth. These include recycled content resin and unique volume reduction technologies that are showing great potential.
As shown below, the molded polystyrene packaging recycling rate percentage continues to grow steadily, showing a dependable track record to deliver consistent results.
Read the entire Recycling Rate Report from EPS Industry Alliance.