What is accepted:
- Styrofoam blocks (no food containers)
- Packing peanuts
How it is processed:
Packing peanuts, most often made of Styrofoam or a corn-based plastic, are not recycled, but instead reused by Surplus Property for shipping purposes. As a result, Surplus rarely has to buy new packing peanuts.
Styrofoam blocks are collected in 1,000 gallon bags and sent to Total Reclaim in Portland. Once there, the Styrofoam is put into a densifying machine. This compacts the Styrofoam into a compact stackable block. Click play on the video below to see this process in action.
A 53-foot trailer full of Styrofoam fits into a gaylord box (a 3.3′ x 4′ x 3.4′ box that holds about 1.7 cubic-yards) once it is compacted. Next, Total Reclaim ships the blocks to a company in California where the plastic is melted down. It is sold as low-grade plastic to manufacturers in the U.S. and in China.
The low-grade plastic can be made into things like toothbrush handles and picture frames.
Learn more about how to recycle this material from our Tip of the Week on special recyclables.
This post is part of our “Behind the Scenes” blog series, which details what happens to OSU’s recycling after you place it in a recycle bin. Tune in every week to learn more.