Answering Your Questions: Is Packing Foam Recyclable?

Is Packing Foam Recyclable

As a business owner, it’s essential to understand the environmental impact of your operations. One area that often comes up in discussions is packaging, specifically packing foam. Customers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging materials and are looking to businesses to take action.

One common question we hear from business owners is, “Is packing foam recyclable?” In this article, we’ll answer this question and provide guidance on how to make your packaging more sustainable.

Different Types of Packing Foam

Before we dive into whether packing foam is recyclable, it’s important to understand the different types of foam. There are two main types of packing foam: expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyethylene foam (PE).

EPS is a type of foam commonly used in shipping and packaging. It’s lightweight, durable, and provides excellent protection for delicate items. It’s made from a combination of styrene and benzene and is not biodegradable.

PE foam is a flexible and lightweight foam used for cushioning and protecting products during shipping. This type of foam is made from polyethylene, which is a type of plastic. PE foam is recyclable, depending on the materials used to manufacture it.

Both types of foam have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to recyclability. We’ll explore both further in the next section.

Is Packing Foam Recyclable?

The short answer is that it depends on the type of foam.

EPS foam is not typically accepted by curbside recycling programs because it’s difficult to recycle. However, there are facilities that specialize in recycling EPS foam. These facilities compress and melt down the foam into dense blocks, which can then be sold to manufacturers who make new products from recycled foam. The downside is that this process can be expensive and not cost-effective for small businesses.

PE foam, on the other hand, is recyclable. However, it must be taken to a facility that specializes in plastic recycling. Additionally, only certain types of PE foam can be recycled; for example, the foam must not contain any contaminants or additives. In addition, it must be clean and free of any labels or stickers.

Tips for Making Your Packaging More Sustainable

While recycling is an important part of the sustainability equation, it’s not the only solution. Here are some tips for making your packaging more sustainable:


  1. Reduce your packaging: The best way to reduce the environmental impact of your packaging is to use less of it. Consider redesigning your product packaging to use less material or switching to a more sustainable material, like paper or cardboard.
  2. Use biodegradable or compostable materials: Consider using biodegradable or compostable materials for your packagings, such as paper, cardboard, or plant-based plastics. These materials break down naturally in the environment, reducing their impact on the planet.
  3. Opt for reusable materials:  Reusable materials, such as metal or glass containers, can be used multiple times and therefore reduce the amount of packaging waste. These materials are also often more durable and can protect products better during shipping.
  4. Choose sustainable suppliers: When sourcing packaging materials, choose suppliers that prioritize sustainability. Look for those that use recycled materials, have sustainable manufacturing processes, and are transparent about their environmental impact.
  5. Educate your customers: Teach your customers about the importance of sustainability and how they can dispose of your packaging in an environmentally friendly way. Consider adding recycling instructions to your packaging or including a note in your shipment confirmation email.


As a business owner, it’s important to understand how your packaging affects the environment. While packing foam may not be easily recyclable, there are steps you can take to make your packaging more sustainable. 

By reducing your packaging, using biodegradable or compostable materials, choosing sustainable suppliers, and educating your customers, you can make a positive impact on the planet and your bottom line.

FAQs on Recycling Packing Foam

Now that we’ve discussed the main types of packing foam and their respective recyclability let’s explore some commonly asked questions about recycling this type of foam.

Is packing foam biodegradable?

No, packing foam is not biodegradable. While both EPS foam and PE foam are recyclable, they cannot break down naturally in the environment, like biodegradable materials such as paper or cardboard.

Are EPS foam blocks recyclable?

Yes, but only at specialized facilities that have the equipment to process and compress the foam. As stated, this process is price and can be out of budget for many small businesses.

What are the most sustainable packaging materials?

The most sustainable packaging materials are those that are reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. Examples include paper, cardboard, plant-based plastics, metal containers, and glass containers. These are great alternatives to using packing foam.

Find a Reliable Recycling Partner in Generated Materials Recovery

If you are looking for a more sustainable solution to your packaging needs, consider contacting Generated Materials Recovery. We specialize in providing recycling services for packing foam, as well as other packaging materials. With our help, you can reduce your environmental impact and be sure that you’re doing your part for a more sustainable future.

Contact us today to learn more about our industrial and commercial recycling services and how we can help your business become more environmentally friendly.


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