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Featured Recycling Resource

Recycle Your Styrofoam™ with GreenCitizen

GreenCitizen Employee Recycling Styrofoam

A GreenCitizen staff member
processing some Styrofoam

After the holidays, many of us are stuck with Styrofoam or similar polystyrene foam packaging that cradled our shiny new flat screens, computers, and  appliances. Environmentally, these polystyrene products are one of the most frustrating materials we encounter. It takes several hundred years for a polystyrene food container to biodegrade (for  reference, it takes organic material, like a banana peel, only about two months). And because of its low density, it is not cost effective to recycle. Throwing it in a landfill is  obviously not environmentally responsible, and polystyrene already takes up significant space there. Polystyrene is also infamous for breaking up into pieces that kill animals and fish through choking or by clogging their digestive systems.

GreenCitizen to the Rescue

So, environmentally, the best course of action is to avoid buying products with polystyrene packaging and to avoid purchasing items online that must be packaged and shipped to you. Biodegradable packaging materials are becoming more readily available, but nevertheless, polystyrene foam packaging continues to be used. GreenCitizen to the rescue! GreenCitizen’s mission is to develop a sustainable metropolitan model that provides the most convenient and accountable ways for individuals and businesses to reuse and recycle electronics. They are pleased to announce that they are now also accepting Styrofoam and other polystyrene products for recycling at their four Bay Area Eco-Centers. Swing by and drop it off anytime during business hours (and take in any of those old electronics you would like to recycle, too). For polystyrene, they charge $5 per 30-gallon bag, which is the size of a regular garbage bag. Bags are available in the centers. This fee helps cover logistic and processing costs. They can only accept white, unmarked polystyrene (no colored polystyrene products and no products contaminated with food), and only EPS (expanded polystyrene) or XPS (extruded polystyrene) number 6. If you’re a business, they can even pick up electronics and polystyrene directly from your office. Electronics, as always, are completely free to recycle.

New Life for Waste Polystyrene

Foam Crown Moulding

Instead of spending centuries
in landfills, polystyrene can be
converted into useful products
like crown moulding.

How does GreenCitizen recycle your polystyrene packing materials? GreenCitizen recently purchased a polystyrene foam condensing machine. Workers feed the white, unsoiled blocks of polystyrene into the machine, which condenses it to roughly 1/90th of its original volume, slowly spitting it out like frozen yogurt. The dense polystyrene product emerging from the machine becomes a recyclable commodity for producers of recycled plastic pellets. These pellets can then be used for insulation sheets and other construction applications. The condensed product can also be turned into clothes hangers, jewel cases, public benches, garden pots, toys, picture frames, surfboard foam, and crown molding for around ceilings. So stop by a GreenCitizen Eco-Center to take an up-close look at some condensed polystyrene and recycle yours to keep it out of the landfill. Thank you so much for doing your part!

How to Find GreenCitizen

GreenCitizen’s San Francisco Eco-Center is located in the downtown area just south of Mission Street at 590 Howard Street. Visit for drop-off hours and further information on their recycling programs.