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Polystyrene Foam Igloo Recycling

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The Incredible Shrinking Igloo

When we volunteered to recycle the foam panels used to make a kid-sized igloo for my daughter’s class at school, I wrote this little story to explain what happened to the igloo. 

We know that real igloos made of ice finally melt when the temperature dips below freezing. What happens to make-believe, polysterene foam igloos? If they go into the regular garbage, they take up space in the landfill. Instead, we have an incredible shrinking igloo.


< Here’s how it works: First, your teachers took the igloo apart when it was time to redecorate the classroom. Then, we took home the bags of foam pieces. We carefully removed all of the tape, and put the foam pieces into the special bag from the recycling center. WHIR

The bag of foam gets transported to the recycling center, where it goes into a special machine, called the Styrocycler. Watch out! A specially trained operator pushes the button to make the machine chop and whir the foam into thousands of tiny little pieces.


Next, the machine squishes the foam into a dense log. Now all of that foam is taking a up a space 1/40th of its original size.


The foam will get used again to make some plastic things that you might see at the store someday. Maybe a picture frame or the case that holds a music cd. That’s the story of the incredible shrinking igloo. Instead of melting, it gets squished!

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