The vast majority of foam food-service products are used in commercial districts where there is no collection of foam for recycling. EPS foam food containers are typically not “clean” enough to be recycled.
EPS foam materials from the waste stream (especially EPS food containers which are likely to have higher contamination from food), and the high costs of collecting, sorting, and transporting EPS, which often requires expensive densifying machines to reduce the volume of collected EPS materials.
Recycling of foam food containers does not make economic sense. Recycling foam involves significant labor and processing costs, including the leasing of the densifier. Melted cheese on EPS is a nightmare for recyclers.Landfilling is considered the most economical way to deal with contaminated EPS.
Washing contaminated EPS is expensive. It is less costly to send the contaminated material to the landfill. In contrast, composters welcome the addition of food contaminated paper.
Recyclers do not want to process EPS food service ware, through a curbside program, or even left in a drop-off bin or outside in a storage yard, are usually too contaminated for recyclers. When EPS gets mixed into compost collection it is a nuisance and next to impossible to remove. the economic viability of composting is improved when paper is added to the mix. Paper decreases odor, absorbs liquids, balances the carbon nitrogen ratio, and improves the market quality of compost.