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Recycling – Video of the Week: Recycling Styrofoam

January 17th, 2012

As you may have heard, we have some special Styrofoam recycling collection events coming soon here at OSU! We will be the only place in town where Styrofoam can be recycled for free, so don’t miss it! (OSU departments, however, can recycle their Styrofoam through us throughout the year.)

What happens to the Styrofoam?

What happens to it after it hits the bin? Here’s a brief overview of the process:

  1. OSU Campus Recycling packs your Styrofoam into 1,000 gallon bags. Once we have enough to fill a truck, a Portland, OR company called Total Reclaim come to pick it up (for a fee).
  2. At Total Reclaim, they put the Styrofoam through a densifying machine.  This compacts the Styrofoam into a compact, stackable block.  A 53 foot trailer of Styrofoam will fit into a 4’ by 4’ by 4’ box once it is compacted!
  3. Next, Total Reclaim ships the blocks to a company in California where the plastic is melted down.
  4. This material is sold as low-grade plastic to manufacturers.  They try to find companies within the U.S. to ship to, but also have to ship it overseas to China. The low-grade plastic can be made into things like toothbrush handles and picture frames.


See much of this process in action in this video from HowStuffWorks (this is not where OSU’s Styrofoam is taken, but it shows the processes and some of the products that can be made). Enjoy!


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