Recycling Styrofoam at ACH Foam Technologies

December 3, 2010

In spite of what many recycling proponents think, Styrofoam now has a place in the recycling supply chain, reports Fort Collins artist, Nancy Dobbs, who has been storing Styrofoam junk in hopes her wait would lead to getting the material recycled.  That was when she heard about one innovative company, ACH Foam Technologies, which ran a recycling operation from its corporate offices in Denver.

While Styrofoam may be regarded as a miracle substance for the packaging industry, it has long been considered a curse with no cure by recyclers and environmentalists due to an interminably long lifespan and its difficult fit in the recycling industry, where most regard it as nonrecyclable.

Thus Dobbs was happy to make the long drive south from Fort Collins with a carload of Styrofoam she had collected over the years. ACH indicated it was willing to receive the load, as long as it hadn’t been contaminated with food.

ACH, a leader in expanded polystyrene (EPS) industry, manufactures products for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. ACH reports that many of its products can be easily recycled to make new EPS products, or thermally processed to be turned into other plastics materials.

As it turns out, some methods of recycling Styrofoam have been going on since 1991, when the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) was formed. This organization represented some 80 companies in the expanded polystyrene (EPS) industry.  Since that time, AFPR has expanded to facilitate the development of recycling and awareness communications and programs.

“The possibilities are limitless,” says ACH’s website “Our products have virtually unlimited design flexibility and can be easily customized. This design flexibility means our products can be used in almost any industry and for a wide variety of applications.”

Polystyrene does not fit very well in the category of sustainability, however, it sounds far better if it can be recycled and remanufactured into useful products. In this video, Mike Hagood, Walmart senior director of innovations, believes the practice fits quite well with his company’s push for sustainability.

This other video is available for those wishing to see one part of the Styrofoam remanufacturing process. The destination is far more appealing than a landfill.


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Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.
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