Friday, April 13, 2018
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Refuse Collection Department


Is polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam) recyclable?

Styrofoam is not accepted in Middletown’s curbside program.

Styrofoam is only one name for a material called ‘expanded polystyrene plastic’ or EPS.  EPS is a petroleum by-product, first commercially produced during World War II in the production of synthetic rubber.  EPS is most often referred to as Styrofoam, although “Styrofoam” is actually a brand of home insulation trademarked by Dow Chemical.

Polystyrene comes in two forms: molded pieces and as ‘peanuts.’ Molded pieces are used to make coffee cups, salad boxes, trays, egg cartons, and protective packaging, to name a few uses.  Molded polystyrene provides many benefits including an insulating quality that helps hold food at temperature.  

Because molded polystyrene is 95% air, it is nearly impossible to recycle.  When baled for transport, it falls apart so quickly that bulk packaging and shipping is out of the question.  As it is not recyclable, molded polystyrene should be disposed of as trash.

Save those peanuts!

A second form of polystyrene protective packaging is the loose fill we call ‘peanuts.’ Because of its large bulk and lightweight, it is also cost prohibitive to transport peanuts to a recyclable processing plant in less than industrial quantities. But whereas molded polystyrene is not recyclable, ‘peanuts’ are easily re-useable.  Nearly 30% of all polystyrene loose fill is used again. For mailing services, the reuse rate of loose fill is as high as 50%.

You can take your peanuts to several local businesses and drop them off at no charge. These businesses, in turn, will re-use the peanuts.  The peanuts you ‘recycle’ should be clean and free of any plastic film, loose parts, or glued-on cardboard. Please transport your peanuts in regular plastic bags.

The following local businesses recycle plastic peanuts:

Post All:  1151 Aquidneck Ave, Middletown, RI
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday and Sat 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.