Post-consumer EPS recycling sluggish
By Bobby Elliott
Plastics Recycling Update Nov. 1, 2013
Recycling of rigid foam products, known as expanded polystyrene (EPS), gained ground in 2012, with strong post-industrial figures outweighing a slight decline in post-consumer recycling output. According to data released by the EPS Industry Alliance in its bi-annual EPS Recycling Rate Report, 93.7 million pounds of expanded EPS were recycled in 2012, up from 71.3 million pounds in 2010. Recycling of post-industrial rigid foam accounted for roughly 60 percent of the overall recycling output in 2012, totaling 56.9 million pounds and trumping 2010’s total of 34.2 million pounds. The report credits “a steadfast reliance on high volume sources [and] the success of industry recycling efforts in the U.S.” Post-consumer recycling made up for the remaining 36.7 million pounds, representing a slight drop-off from a 2010 high of 37.1 million pounds. Though the volume of EPS recovered was down, the pounds sold were down even further, causing the post-consumer recycling rate to increase two percentage points to 30 percent in 2012. Contending that “increased recycling is achievable,” the EPS Industry Alliance will focus on boosting post-consumer recycling as well as continuing to strengthen industry commitment to recycling post-industrial EPS scrap.