Here are at least two companies making significant efforts to promote the recyclability of polystyrene and trying to halt the emergence of bans particularly for EPS foam in the food-service sector.
With a focus on the residential recycling stream and spurred by increasing demand for post-consumer content in food-service packaging and related applications, a new facility that will process both rigid polystyrene and EPS foam is being built by Dart Container, Mason, Mich., and Plastics Recycling, Inc., (PRI) Indianapolis, Ind. The former is a manufacturer of a broad range of quality, single-use products for the food service, retail and food packaging industries and the world’s largest manufacturer of foam cups, while the latter has established itself as one of the nation’s largest and forward-thinking PS recyclers. The partnership is said to be ideal as it combines Dart’s washing technology for reclaimed PS and PRI’s recycling and compounding expertise.
Slated to be fully on stream within the first quarter of 2015, the facility will initially have a 25-million lb/yr capacity but is being designed to allow for growth. It will essentially boost PRI’s existing annual 60-million/lb EPS and PS recycling capacity at the Indianapolis site to 85 million/lbs. PRI’s owner Alan Shaw views the largely untapped residential recycling stream as a tremendous source for generating more of this valuable material. The facility is expected by the partners to enhance local governments’ ability to launch recycling efforts to remove rigid PS and EPS from the waste stream and generate revenue.
For its part, Dart Container has been strongly advocating the recyclability of PS in the last several months in an effort to convince municipalities across the country to bring the material into recycling steams instead of enacting bans restricting the use of foam in foodservice settings. By the end of 2013, the company had helped lobby legislators in New York who were considering a ban. The Big Apple ultimately decided to wait a year and test out the practicality of bringing foam products into the municipal recycling system. Although the tests are not as yet underway, Dart Container and PRI feel that the expanded operation in Indianapolis will prove a big boon as it will be the destination for recovered PS from New York City if the program gets underway.
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