Styrofoam, or foam #6, is usually recycled at large, central facilities following collection from decentralized drop-off sites. During recycling the foam is safely cleaned and sorted, ground into small particles, and melted into pellets that are used in other products. Many communities or municipalities have public foam recycling drop-off sites.
Some foam recycling drop-off locations are mapped at EPSPackaging.org, DartContainer.com and FoamFacts.com. Earth911.com offers a recycling drop-off search engine by specific materials to be recycled. Your local sanitation department or municipality may provide additional local information about foam #6 recycling drop-off options.
If a foam drop-off site is not available, other methods of recycling and reuse are possible. Packing peanuts are often accepted for reuse by UPS or other shipping services. Mail-back programs are offered by some companies and organizations, including EPS Packaging and Dart Container, although no reimbursement for shipping is provided. For large volume foam recycling, contracting for pick-up by a recycling company is often the best solution. Foam compacting or special packaging may be required by a recycling pick-up service.
Some community recycling programs that accept plastic #6 may not accept foam #6, also known as expanded polystyrene, or EPS. Some types of packing peanuts are made with a variety of materials and are a contaminant when combined with foam #6 for recycling. For this reason, packing peanuts should not be commingled with other foam #6 products for recycling.