- ReFoamIt LLC, a Massachusetts-based expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) recycler, is going out of business due to low commodity prices and building issues.
- The five-year-old company recycled packing blocks, food trays, take-out containers, hot cups, egg cartons, insulation sheets, and polyethylene foam. Owner David Sherman said he used to get 40 cents per pound, but that has now dropped to 15 cents.
- Fire and insurance officials told the building's landlord that the current space needed a new fire suppression system and Sherman can't afford a lease elsewhere.
EPS recycling is a very controversial issue due to infrastructure challenges and municipal opposition. Washington D.C. recently banned polystyrene food service products and San Francisco has considered an outright ban which would even apply to marine equipment. New York City pursued its own ban, but it was appealed by a judge last fall and appears to be a non-starter at this time.
The EPS industry has pushed back on the notion that its products aren't recyclable. Dart Container Corporation has tried to make their case by opening a number of free 24/7 drop-off recycling centers, one of the most recent in Chicago, and has strongly opposed many municipal bans. The Foam Recycling Coalition, an offshoot of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, has also been making grants available for new EPS recycling programs.
Technically most anything can be recycled with enough effort and energy, and Dart is well-equipped to do that. Smaller companies such as ReFoamIt have had a harder time making the economics work. Owner David Sherman said he hasn't given up entirely and may consider collecting the material to be processed elsewhere. Until a stronger market can be proven for processors of all sizes, it's still too early to truly say if the material can be effectively recycled.