Green Tips: Styrofoam Recycling

After Christmas in 2009 West Bild, the developer of Burien Town Plaza, loaned us an empty store front in the Bartells and Ace Hardware parking lot. For 2 afternoons we collected Styrofoam to take to Styrorecycle in Renton. (Someone who dropped off a bag of peanuts is missing a pair of shoes, please contact us if you can identify them.) They grind it up, then run it through a 3 stage progressive heater to form it into semi-solid logs. While it’s still soft it’s pressed into blocks, then once it’s cooled it’s stacked on pallets until they have 40,000 pounds. That’s enough to make a full trailer load to be shipped off to a company that recycles them into picture frames, TV cabinets, computer cases, etc.

The densifying process reduces the Styrofoam by 90:1, so an amount that would nearly fill a pickup bed and canopy reduces down to about 1 cubic foot, which makes it practical to ship across the country. You can drop off clean, white Styrofoam of the right type at no charge. They will pick up large quantities for a reasonable fee.

They accept white Styrofoam (#6 or EPS) materials, the types most commonly found with new electronic products, appliance packaging, computers and monitors, furniture packaging and picnic/shipping coolers. They also take clean packing peanuts, both Styrofoam and starch, which are reused. They must be clean with no foreign material mixed in. They do NOT accept material that isn’t clean, Styrofoam food containers, urethane foam cushions, expanded polypropylene (EPP), foam insulation, plastic wrap, bubble wrap or hard plastics.

To determine if you have the right material look for the “#6” or “EPS” inside the recycle symbol, if it’s sheet material bend it – it should break and snap with loose beads. All foreign material like plastic sheeting, tape, staples and cardboard must be removed.