Foam Recycling Basics

The process to recycle foam is like that of other recyclables. In the case of foam products, a special compactor – called a “densifier” – may be used in the processing of the material. Foam products are over 90% air, so densifying it allows the material to be transported more cost-effectively. To give you an example, a 48-foot truckload of baled foam polystyrene weighs only around 16,000 pounds, whereas a truckload of densified foam polystyrene weighs 40,000 pounds.

Innovative alternatives are being developed and deployed that are categorized as chemical recycling (vs. mechanical recycling). This will take the plastic resin back to its base state – in the case of foam PS, back to a styrene monomer. With chemical recycling, increased organic contamination will only impact the amount of foam for recovery (yield), but will not impact the recyclability of the plastic.

Foam Recycling Overview


where to recycle foam

The availability of programs offering foam polystyrene recycling is growing across the U.S. and Canada. Use this map to find a recycling collection program in the United States or Canada that accepts foam polystyrene food packaging, transport packaging or both for recycling.

Foam Recycling Process