Student Efforts Collect 250 Pounds of Foam Waste

Students moving into University of California, Davis, campus housing this year were greeted by volunteers ready to make their move-in experience as “green” as possible. As part of an initiative to decrease the amount of waste on campus, UC Davis Student Housing partnered with Dart Container Corporation for the third year in a row to assist residents in collecting their unwanted foam waste used during the moving process.  Although it’s often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, the material that is typically used for packaging appliances and goods is called polystyrene foam and can be recycled.

Thirty UC Davis volunteers, as well as helpers from Dart Container, expected to collect more than 30 cubic yards, or 250 lbs. of foam during the move-in weekend.  The mass of material – enough to fill a large school bus – was then sent over to Dart Container’s Lodi, CA, facility where it was processed and recycled. Once this procedure has taken place, the recycled foam is picked up by a manufacturer to be used in the production of brand new consumer items, such as picture frames and crown molding.  While this program certainly does a lot of initial good for the campus, it also encourages students to continue recycling throughout the school-year and educate themselves on the materials that can be recycled and what this process involves.

The collection program during move-in is just one way UC Davis is working to reach its ultimate goal of zero waste collected by the year 2020. Jenni Porter, the sustainability coordinator with UC Davis Student Housing, comments, “This is our third year partnering with Dart, and it is a great opportunity for students to have a hand in improving our school, while learning about the importance of environmental responsibility at UC Davis.” The campus has also installed energy efficient thermostats, enough bike racks for every student to have a space, and water bottle filling stations to reach the zero waste goal.

This example is just one of many efforts to implement more foam recycling initiatives throughout the U.S.  Dart Container has developed several programs that continually promote the importance of polystyrene recycling to consumers. The CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program, for example, makes it easy for any organization or group to recycle single-use foam cups and containers. This program provides users with a device to compress their own foam waste to a fraction of its original size. The foam eventually is purchased by manufacturers to produce new items.

Source: Davis Patch

Foam Recycling