Foam Recycling in Washington Appeals to Environmentalists

Washington state environmentalists have a new reason to rejoice: foam recycling has taken hold in their state as innovative recycling centers model new ways to go green.

Marilyn Lauderdale recognized the need for a foam recycling center in her community and opened Styro Recycle, LLC, in 2009. The company’s Renton, WA, location offers a free drop-off service for residents and business owners to dispose of their used polystyrene.

Styro Recycle delivers the collected foam in bulk to companies that reuse polystyrene for consumer products such as premium picture frames, crown molding, light switch covers, and garden nursery trays.

Ms. Lauderdale hopes to promote foam recycling through education. “We need to put the spotlight on what to do with our used materials instead of how [we can] ban them,” she said in an article for the Renton Patch. “More cities and communities need to put the focus on progression – and allow their residents the opportunity to recycle foam, create jobs, and [create] more opportunities.”

Styro Recycle is not the only foam recycling center in Washington. Dart Container Corporation accepts polystyrene at its drop-off location in Turnwater, and The Waste & Recovery Center in Lacey accepts polystyrene food containers and foam packaging for recycling. Each of these companies seeks to not only properly recycle foam, but to educate the public about recycling opportunities and foam misconceptions as well.

The misconceptions begin with the product’s name, as consumers commonly refer to polystyrene foam as Styrofoam. In reality, the two products are distinctly different. Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, used mainly for insulation purposes. Polystyrene foam, on the other hand, is almost exclusively used in food packaging products.

Many Americans are unaware that they can recycle foam, and, as the foam industry points out, there are numerous recycling centers across the country – like Styro Recycle – that accept polystyrene foam. The industry is fighting foam misconceptions with a wide-ranging educational campaign, informing consumers about the benefits of foam recycling in Washington.

According to an October 2014 report from the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Industry Alliance, the recycling rate of polystyrene foam climbed to 35% in 2013. This figure represents a total 127.3 million pounds of post-commercial and post-consumer packaging, as well as post-industrial recovery foam that was processed and recycled in 2013. The rate is up nearly 5% year-over-year and has steadily climbed since 1991. As word continues to spread about foam recycling, the foam industry is certain that this number will continue to rise.

Foam officials [This is confusing. Do you mean industry representatives? “Foam officials” sounds like elected officials.] are confident that an educated public will embrace foam recycling in Washington.

Find more information about Styro Recycle at

Foam Recycling