Part of my homework after bringing home my first recycling bag for expanded polystyrene was to locate the little symbol stamped into the product. Here it is. It’s the number 6 surrounded by a triangle of chasing arrows, with the letters “PS” under the triangle.
I assumed it would months before my household would fill up our 100-gallon bag with the common packaging foam. Then I took a look in our storage areas. I found a box for a ceiling fan that is long past its warranty period and already installed in our house. Yet, there was the entire box intact with the foam. As I opened box after empty box, there the stuff was, just sitting around.
My husband insists that we keep the foam that might protect his televisiom monitor if he had to pack it up, and perhaps he needs foam for a couple of other things that are still under warranty. We’re negotiating on how many items we really need to keep all of the packaging for. I would prefer more space in the storage area.
So, my recycling bag is 2/3 full already, as long as my husband doesn’t take something back out of it. Once I fill it, I’ll drop it by my local recycling coalition, where they’ll use a machine to reduce it to 1/40th of its volume. Then, the condensed foam logs can be used to make new plastic products. You might want to check with your local solid waste office or nonprofit recycling group about this. In case they don’t provide the service, here’s a list of industry contacts at the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers set up to recycle polystyrene.