School District Finds Benefits in Recycling Foam Lunch Trays

A school district in Riverside, CA is participating in a foam lunch tray recycling program in order to understand the financial benefits of recycling, as well as show students and faculty the importance of a sustainable lifestyle. Schools within the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) are participating in the “Going the Extra Mile” foam recycling program.  The program focuses specifically on recycling polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, which makes up many forms of single-use foodservice items such as school trays and cups.

Within the RUSD, 28 schools are participating in the recycling program.  The district as a whole is now recycling 33,000 foam lunch trays per week, or about 1,320,000 per year. By taking part in this program, participating schools are reducing their outgoing waste by nearly 50 percent, which also reduces the number of trash pick-ups per week each school requires. According to Kirk Lewis, assistant superintendent for RUSD, “This program has not only made a difference by saving our district money, it is an opportunity for our students to get actively involved in recycling and learning about the importance of reducing waste in our landfills.”

Students help with the program by cleaning off their used lunch trays and stacking them back into their original shipping boxes. The foam trays are then sent to Dart Container Corporation’s Corona, CA plant where they are processed for recycling. After the used lunch trays have been treated by Dart Container, they are sent to local manufacturing plants that use the material to produce new consumer goods, such as picture frames and crown molding.

While the “Going the Extra Mile” program caters specifically to school districts, Dart Container also works to implement foam recycling programs within individual organizations.  Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program, for example, makes it easy for organizations to recycle their single-use foam cups. This program provides participants with a densifying device to compress foam waste, which is then collected by manufacturers to be made into new products, a process similar to that of the “Going the Extra Mile” program.

Source: The Press Enterprise

Foam Recycling