When it comes to EPS foam recycling, many recyclers are reluctant to accept the disposal of such foam garbage. Due to the large volume and low density of the eps foam, the recycling is not cost-effective. So, why is there such a conclusion, and in the end who will take the responsibility for EPS foam recycling?
What Makes EPS Foam Recycling So Expensive
For one thing, food service EPS foam is not all clean, dry and intact, but recyclers do not want their products to be like this. In order to prevent food residues from rotting, the recycling facilities need to clean it within 24 hours of entering the trash can.
For another, as more than 95% of foam-forming material is air making it lightweight, which means that recyclers must transport all these space-consuming materials to their facilities, and in order to make this operation cost-effective, large amounts of EPS will be required. However, there are approximately 250 million tons of municipal solid waste in the United States, and less than 1% is EPS foam.
Contributions of Public Recycling Centers
Considering the return on investment ratio, many recyclers abandon the recycling of EPS foam. So, where will the “white pollution” EPS foam waste go and be disposed?
In recent years, we find that the state and local government organizations are paying more and more attention to environmental protection. For the better living environment of residents, the government has begun to shoulder the responsibility of EPS foam recycling.
A good example is St. Vincent de Paul in Oregon, USA, it is a third party, non profit recycling center. In 2016, they learned the difficulty of EPS foam recycling when no recyclers in their county accept this material. They first arranged a foam recycling densifier and built a program for EPS recycling. Half years later, the program has helped producing 5 job opportunities to the public and recycle EPS foam for more than 400,000 pounds.
In North America, except for St. Vincent de Paul, many other governmental organizations also contribute to EPS foam recycling with their heart and duty. Like Tillamook County, located in the U.S. state of Oregon. Niagara Region, a regional municipality comprising twelve municipalities of Southern Ontario, Canada; and Calgary, the main governing and legislative body for The City of Calgary.
Even today, people will still point out that the cost of EPS foam recycling, separating it, shipping it, cleaning it, and processing it, just wasn't worth the money and effort. However, when you truly understand how much pressure the white EPS foam discarded in the wild puts on the terrestrial and marine environment, you will understand whether the efforts made by the government and recycling centers are worth it.