Greensboro Non-Profit Organizations Partner to Expand Collection of Foam Recycling

Four non-profit organizations in Greensboro, North Carolina, Tiny House Community Development (THCD), Greensboro Beautiful, Inc., Emerging Ecology, and Environmental Stewardship Greensboro, collectively known as the Foam Coalition of Nonprofits, continue to work toward expanding their foam polystyrene recovery efforts across central North Carolina. In 2020, the organization established a local drop-off site near downtown Greensboro to recycle more polystyrene (PS) foam marked with a number six (6). This includes cups, clamshell packaging, egg cartons and packaging foam that comes with electronics or furniture.

The Foam Coalition of Nonprofits continues to gain momentum and support throughout the local community and is now working to expand PS foam recycling drop-off locations. The organization was awarded a $28,000 grant from the Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC) in 2020 to assist in expanding access to foam recycling and implementing collection in additional areas of central North Carolina.

“These Greensboro non-profits are working hard to serve their communities by providing recycling services for foam polystyrene packaging that would otherwise be destined for the landfill,” says Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, which oversees FRC.

Since establishing the foam recycling drop-off location, the organization has collected over 15,000 pounds of foam, provided paid workforce development jobs to homeless and formerly homeless individuals, and helped reduce the waste that goes to the landfill in the area. With this new grant, the organization will expand collection locations to include additional cities and local universities in providing access for PS foam recycling. This will also provide the opportunity to expand its workforce development training program as well.

“This unique partnership among our organizations has successfully established a thriving drop-off operation and we are excited to have the opportunity and support from the community to expand drop-off locations in the area,” said Scott A. Jones, executive director of Tiny House Community Development. “Not only is this site a great opportunity for the region’s recycling efforts, all proceeds from the sale of our recovered polystyrene will support construction of Tiny Houses, which will provide job training and homes for individuals in the community.”

FRC funding helped the Foam Coalition of Nonprofits set up and operate the first drop off site and expand its capabilities, which currently collects all types of foam polystyrene packaging materials including foodservice containers and trays from residents, hospitals, colleges, and businesses within Guilford County.

The grant is made possible through contributions to FRC, which focuses exclusively on increased recycling of post-consumer foam polystyrene. Its members include Americas Styrenics; Cascades Canada ULC; Chick-fil-A; CKF Inc.; Dart Container Corp.; Dolco Packaging; Dyne-A-Pak; Genpak; INEOS Styrolution America LLC.; Pactiv Foodservice/Food Packaging; and Republic Plastics.

Tiny House Community Development, Greensboro Beautiful, Inc., Emerging Ecology and Environmental Stewardship Greensboro are the 19th grant recipients to receive FRC funding since 2015. Over 6 million additional residents in the U.S. and Canada can recycle foam as a result of FRC grants. Visit www.RecycleFoam.org to learn about foam recycling, read about previous recipients or apply for a grant.

Back to School: Time for Math, Science and Foodservice Packaging

We’ve never been so happy to see children across the nation heading back to in-person learning after being mostly virtual since the onset of the pandemic. While schools were closed, many districts offered mobile food programs to provide breakfast and lunch. Yet, did these children know that when they sat down to eat their lunch that is was packaged using single-use foodservice packaging? Or did they simply dive in and enjoy?

A few years ago, we partnered with Young Minds Inspired to help educate our youth on foodservice packaging while still helping teachers meet their curriculum goals. Together, we created an educational program for students in fourth through sixth grades. The activities explore single-use foodservice packaging usage, encourage recycling/composting and teach about sustainability.

We thought this was a great opportunity for teachers to add depth to their lessons, and an easy way for students to learn about our products. If you can educate students on the what, why and how of foodservice packaging, they’ll have a better understanding of why it’s a smart choice for sanitation, safety and environmental reasons.

The downloadable program is available for free. It includes a one-page teacher’s instruction guide along with two activities for students that promote deeper-level thinking and discussion, and enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and English language arts classroom education — what are known as STEM and ELA curriculums.

The interactive activities include scenarios that help students understand:
• How and why foodservice packaging was invented.
• How foodservice packaging compares to reusable products in different circumstances.
• The factors related to sanitation, safety, cost, convenience and the environment.

At FPI and within our industry, we are committed to reducing the impact of foodservice packaging products on the environment. By creating this educational program, we hope to provide an opportunity for students to experience dynamic learning about the foodservice packaging products they use every day.

You can check out the full educational program here and teachers can download and begin using the materials immediately.

Do you know an educator who could benefit from these materials? Please be sure to pass this along to them!