Foam comes in different sizes and shapes and has many uses.

Instead of throwing it out after use, Dart Container Corporation is giving the public and businesses the chance to have it recycled. Waxahachie city officials and community leaders attended a ribbon cutting for the new center on Thursday morning.

“We are opening up a brand new foam collection center. It is going to be the first one in the area, so people are going to have the opportunity to recycle things like packing material,” Dart corporate director of recycling programs Michael Westerfield said.

“There is no limit on how much they can bring. We will take as much as they can handle as long it is clean,” he said. “If they bring clean food service containers – whether it is a foam tray or a foam cup – we will accept it. We will accept foam packaging from both the public and from businesses.”

The center is located at 850 Solon Road in front of the guard station at the facility. The service is free. The center works similar to a mailbox where people just have to place their foam in bins that are located inside of the gates. All that is asked is that people sack up the foam to make it easier to handle and hold down since foam is so light.

“We have opened this up at 11 of our 13 plants to do this and the public loves it. We are a manufacturer of food service containers and our customers have been asking us to recycle them. I think that this is going to take off because that is what is happening in other areas,” Westerfield said. 

“To give you an idea back in 2007, at our drop-off facility in Michigan, we received about 106 tons of foam. We didn’t do anything different the next year and in 2008 it went up to 200 tons. Last year, it was 250 tons and that is with us not doing anything differently, nothing that we haven’t been doing all along,” he said.

Foam that can be accepted for recycling must have the No. 6 symbol with chasing arrows. Items that are accepted include foam cups (remove straws and lids), plates, takeout containers, egg cartons and shaped or molded foam often used to package electronics. Any items that have had other materials in them, like food or drink, must be rinsed out and cleaned before being dropped off.

One product, however, that can’t be dropped off at the center is foam insulation.

Once foam is dropped off at Dart, it is compacted and shipped to a company that will use it as stock to make new materials. Once the raw foam is recycled it can be made into different products that include building insulation and plastic lumber.

To be recycled, the foam is placed into a machine called a densifier, which uses a ram to compress it into a block. A densifier was on site at the ribbon cutting to give a demonstration of how the process works.

“Seeing one of the local companies right here like Dart taking it (recycling) a step further is tremendous,” Waxahachie city manager Paul Stevens said.

“Being here since 1972, being such a great employer and great corporate citizen of the city of Waxahachie, Dart has been a great company and this will make them so much more,” he said. “We look forward to working with them on this project.”

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews. com or 469-517-1458.