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Foam Polystyrene #6


Foam Polystyrene Production Process


Polystyrene (PS) is a multi-faceted plastic used in many common items. The resin identification code for this plastic is "6." PS (solid or foamed) starts as a liquid monomer and is made into a stable, solid polymer pellet. To turn the pellets into PS foam, they are impregnated with a blowing agent, such as pentane or carbon dioxide. This transforms them into “pre-puff” beads. The beads are then heated and puffed up like popcorn. These beads are made into cups, plates, and containers through thermoforming or steam-chest molding.



Recovery & Recycling Information 


Recycling facilities for foam PS cups, clamshells, and trays are limited; however, access is increasing in the U.S. and Canada. The City of Toronto added foam cups and food containers to the City's Blue Box program in December 2008. In fact, approximately 90 municipalities in Ontario, representing over 50% of all households in the province, have access to Blue Box programs (both curbside and depot collection) collecting post-consumer foam cups and containers. Please check with your local recycler to see if PS is accepted in your recycling program.


Municipalities such as Montreal Quebec, Kings, and Annapolis County Nova Scotia recently added foodservice foam to their recycling programs. Expansion of foam collection in British Columbia has given that province the highest Canadian access rate of 78% followed by Ontario at 56%. For more information about polystyrene foam foodservice products recycling access across Canada, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association has published the following report: Access to Residential Recycling of Packaging and Packaging Materials in Canada


Did You Know?


  • Foam products consume less energy in production than paper alternatives.
  • Foam products are an environmentally sound choice when compared to alternatives on a cradle-to-grave life cycle basis.
  • Foam burns cleanly in modern municipal energy-from-waste facilities.
  • Polystyrene is an inert material (meaning it does not react with other substances) that is safe and sanitary.



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