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Gilford in central NH is a pioneer in regional efforts to develop recycling infrastructure for post-consumer expanded polystyrene from food containers, coolers, and other products.

August 29, 2022

2 Min Read
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New Recycling Hub will accept clean EPS food packaging, tableware, coolers, and foam-block cushioningImage courtesy of Town of Gilford, NH

The town of Gilford, in central New Hampshire, is using a $50,000 grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC) to buy and install an expanded polystyrene (EPS) recycling system, including a foam densifier.

The new Gilford Foam Recycling Center, to be located at the Gilford Solid Waste Center (GSWC), will serve an expanded service region — 125 communities and more than 530,000 residents are located within 50 miles of the center.

Gilford’s EPS recycling installation aligns with an initiative from the New Hampshire Plastics Working Group and several Rotary clubs to build a hub-and-spoke system throughout northern New England for PS foam collection and recycling.

“The GSWC is frequently asked by residents if foam can be recycled,” said Meghan Theriault, public works director with the Town of Gilford, in a prepared statement.

“We are proud to become the first hub in the state to collect and densify foam for recycling, helping to divert the material from landfills, save money on trash disposal costs, and potentially generate revenue for the community.”

The state’s Rotary clubs are planning to create numerous spoke locations where EPS foam can be dropped off or collected at events. The clubs will deliver the collected foam to hubs like the one in Gilford.

From trash to ingots to new EPS products.

The foam pieces will then be densified into ingots, which will in turn be sold for manufacturing into new products.

The Gilford Foam Recycling Center will accept clean EPS food packaging and tableware, plus EPS coolers and foam blocks used as cushioning in consumer-durables packaging. Pipe insulation and packing peanuts will not be accepted for recycling.

“The Town of Gilford is a great example of a leading community listening to residents and working with surrounding communities to create a solution for recycling foam,” said Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

“By Gilford taking the first step, we hope to see other communities throughout New England get inspired and join their efforts as either a hub or spoke to divert polystyrene foam from landfills and into new products,” Dempsey added.

The grant enabling Gilford’s EPS recycling initiative was made possible through contributions to the FRC, whose members include Americas Styrenics, CKF, Chick-fil-A; Dart Container, Dyne-A-Pak, Genpak, INEOS Styrolution America, Pactiv Evergreen, and Republic Plastics.

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