Foam Plastic #6 (Polystyrene)

Alternative ways to recycle

Polystyrene, (commonly mischaracterized as StyrofoamTM) is a challenging material to recycle, mainly because of its lightweight nature and contamination. 

These are common forms of polystyrene:

  • Polystyrene (PS) in a hard solid form is commonly used for party cups, coffee cup lids, utensils, hinged to-go containers, electronic casings, automotive parts, medical devices, toys, gardening pots, and CD cases. 
  • Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a foam material used for transportation packaging; food ware (such as hinged to-go container, plates, drink cups, meat trays, egg cartons, and portion cups); packing peanuts, and yoga blocks. 
  • Extruded Polystyrene (XPS): is a high density foam valued for its insulating and cushioning properties. It can also be used in foam poster boards.

Polystyrene is difficult to recycle.
While Athens Services has made every effort to try and remove polystyrene foam (#6 plastic) from the waste stream, there does not exist many viable markets. Athens has found that the act of recycling foam (including collection, processing/separation, compressing and transporting) is not cost effective. Although we do find the packaging and protective padding in some cardboard boxes, most of what we see in our MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) are to-go containers that are highly contaminated. With the lack of resulting volume and the necessity for intense quality control to produce a clean commodity, we have decided not to support this resin as a viable material for remanufacture at our facilities.

Replace your Polystyrene products. 
For single-use disposable serving-ware (like cups, plates, utensils and more), Athens recommends reusable options where possible. For recyclable options, Athens encourages our partners to use light in color or clear #5 Polypropylene (PP) plastic, which is easily marketable to re-processors and recoverable with optical sorting technologies. For compostable options, we recommend 100% fiber-based, BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) certified where food scrap collection is available.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) special drop-off
Foam Fabricators in Compton accepts foam transport packaging. To search for additional drop-off locations, please visit Home for Foam. We recommend calling ahead to confirm acceptable materials. 


Help Prevent Litter

Plastic #6 is a lightweight material that easily finds its way into the environment, where it can leach toxic chemicals. Make sure plastic #6 doesn’t blow away by disposing of it properly.


Takeout Containers Are Not Recyclable

Foam takeout containers are generally not recyclable. Even where certain foam products are recycled, takeout containers are often not accepted because they are difficult to sanitize.


Packing Peanuts Are Not Recyclable

Packing peanuts are generally not recyclable. There are many alternatives for recyclable packaging material. Find out how to dispose of packing peanuts.

Alternative Ways to Recycle

home for foam

Recycle With Home for Foam

Visit Home for Foam to see if there is a foam recycler in your area. These recyclers will accept many foam products, including beverage and food containers. Find out more.

Ways to Reduce

Reusable Packaging For Businesses

Check out Upstream’s catalog of reusable packaging and unpackaging innovators that provide ways for consumers to obtain products, mostly food and beverages, in returnable, reusable, or refillable packaging – or they deliver products to consumers unpackaged altogether.

Did You Know?

Plankton Eating Polystyrene

In the ocean, plastic is being consumed all the way down the food chain. For the first time ever, scientists have recorded plankton eating tiny polystyrene beads. Find out more at New Scientist.

Plastic in Our Bodies

Styrene, a component of polystyrene, has been found in 100 percent of human fat tissue samples dating back to 1986. It is known to cause cancer in animals, and suspected to be both cancerous for humans as well.