Styrofoam Recycling

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StyrofoamTM cannot be recycled in your home recycling cart. You can drop off StyrofoamTM at events and special collection locations to be recycled. StyrofoamTM can be disposed in your garbage can at home.

StyrofoamTM Recycling Events

We anticipate hosting StyrofoamTM recycling events in 2021, safety guidelines permitting.

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Other StyrofoamTM Recycling Options in the Seattle Area

Styrofoam is not accepted in your recycling cart at home. Paid doorstep collection of StyrofoamTM is currently available in the Kirkland area through a private service.

Drop-off recycling is available in Kent and Shoreline. If you only have a small quantity of material, we encourage you to throw it away rather than making a special trip to a distant location, or combine with another trip to the same area. That way you can minimize the environmental impacts of transporting the StyrofoamTM, which could be greater than the environmental benefit of recycling a small amount of material.

Residents of neighboring cities, like Bothell, Redmond, and Bellevue, may have access to local foam recycling options. Contact your local city to ask about recycling events or drop-offs.

StyrofoamTM can be disposed as garbage in your regular trash can at home, or large quantities can be thrown away at the Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland for a fee.

Why City-run Curbside StyrofoamTM Recycling Isn't the Answer

StyrofoamTM is a challenging material to recycle. It is not a valuable material for recycling. It requires delicate handling to prevent pollution. That's why there are so few recycling options available. Only one company in the Seattle area recycles StyrofoamTM.

Recycled StyrofoamTM is not worth a lot

StyrofoamTM is mostly made of air, so it only contains a small amount of plastic. It takes a lot of StyrofoamTM to make enough plastic to sell to manufacturers.

Plastic is made out of oil. When oil is cheap, it costs less to make brand-new plastic than to use recycled plastic. Low oil prices mean fewer companies want to pay for recycled plastic material.

Recycling StyrofoamTM in your cart ruins other recycling

StyrofoamTM can't be recycled in your cart because it breaks into tiny pieces that make other materials harder to recycle. Other cities have tried curbside StyrofoamTM recycling but experienced significant problems.

Recycling StyrofoamTM next to your cart would be expensive for everyone

It is not currently possible to provide free StyrofoamTM recycling next to your cart. Waste Management would need an additional truck and driver to collect StyrofoamTM. We would need to increase garbage collection costs for everyone to pay for it. That would be unfair to people who don't have a lot of StyrofoamTM to get rid of.

The private sector currently offers a paid curbside collection service. This user-paid option is available for people who want curbside collection service.

Recycling StyrofoamTM next to your cart could cause pollution

There are other reasons that collecting StyrofoamTM next to your cart is not the answer. StyrofoamTM is lightweight and breaks apart easily. Pieces could get blown or washed into our stormwater system, then the nearest stream or lake. The small pieces of StyrofoamTM would not be possible to clean up. This has made StyrofoamTM a common problem on beaches and in the ocean.

So what should we do about StyrofoamTM?

Reducing how much StyrofoamTM is used is currently the best choice.

Extended producer responsibility is a system that makes companies responsible for the waste that they make, including shipping and packaging. A system like that could reduce how much StyrofoamTM people receive. It could also lead to more,  better StyrofoamTM recycling options.