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Volume 16, Issue 42 - October 16 - October 22, 2008
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Trial & Error

Could I recycle molded foam packaging?

by Dotty Holcomb Doherty

Editor’s note: The challenges of modern life are many. No saber-toothed tigers lurk in our bushes, but mice still invade our pantries. And ingenious as we are, we’ve populated our universe with an infinity of inanimate challenges. This week begins a new series, Trial & Error, chronicling our successes and failures in managing our lifespaces.

A recent bathroom remodeling left me with a small mountain of white Styrofoam. From shower door to toilet, each piece had come cushioned in the molded foam.

Betty Steiner with the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers in Crofton breaks up foam for recycling.

Now what? Not to the landfill, for Styrofoam does not decompose. I wanted to recycle it. But how?

I hit the Internet. First, I learned it’s not Styrofoam. Actual Styrofoam is blue, made by Dow Chemical and used primarily in building insulation. Coffee cups, meat trays and egg cartons are made from extruded polystyrene, XPS. My molded foam was expanded polystyrene, or EPS, identified with No. 6.

I found a Silver Spring packing store that recycled EPS — but only foam blocks. Nothing molded.

Then I found the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. The Alliance wanted my molded foam for recycling into loose-fill peanuts.

Wanted it enough to offer two ways to recycle it.

Option One: Drop off foam pieces in Crofton at 1298 Cronson Blvd. off Rt. 301. All EPS must be clean: no tape, dirt or glue. Break up foam into small pieces, bag it and take to Suite 201. Anytime, day or night. Sorry, no food packaging: no cups, trays or egg cartons.

In 2007, the Crofton site received 1,139 boxes and bags, up from a mere 190 in 2004.

Option Two: Mail it: Foam Pack Industries, 72 Fadem Rd., Springfield, NJ 07081. The foam is 95 percent air so shipping should be affordable.

For more information:

• Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers: 800-607-3772;

• Want to recycle your peanuts? The Peanut Hotline 800-828-2214;

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