Cook County Expands Foam Recycling Access to Lower-income and Designated Environmental Justice Communities

South Suburban College in partnership with Cook County Government, received a $50,000 grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC) that enables the Illinois county’s residents to recycle materials, such as foam polystyrene cups, plates, bowls, clamshells, egg cartons and meat trays, as well as block packaging foam, at its local drop-off center.

The FRC grant assisted with funding the purchase and installation of a foam densifier at the newly opened Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) Center in South Holland on the South Suburban College campus. Densifiers are used to compact foam products into foam blocks or ingots. Cook County sells the foam ingots to end markets to be manufactured into architectural moldings and picture frames, as well as thermal insulation panels for foundations, walls and roofs.

The CHaRM Center is centrally located near 53 communities with over 268,000 households in Cook County that have the lowest recycling and diversion rates, including 37 municipalities below the median income and 33 municipalities that are designated Environmental Justice areas.

“Cook County is proud to partner with South Suburban College to establish a permanent recycling facility for all Cook County residents,” said Anthony Tindall, solid waste coordinator for Cook County. “The County is grateful to the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Foam Recycling Coalition for this funding to further recycling efforts across the region. Expanding the types of foam polystyrene collected at the CHaRM Center to include food products will help keep even more waste out of landfills and ultimately create a healthier environment for all residents.”

The County will inform residents about the addition of foam polystyrene recycling via communications including mailers, flyers, community events, social media and on its website.

“Cook County serves as a testament to the power of community collaboration and proactive efforts. It shows the strong partnership between the Foam Recycling Coalition and communities, working together to empower residents in their efforts to minimize landfill waste, boost recycling, lower carbon emissions, and foster a local circular economy,” said Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute. “Cook County is a great example of the impact that collective action can have on creating a sustainable future.”

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; Chick-fil-A; CKF Inc.; Dart Container Corp.; Dyne-A-Pak; Genpak; INEOS Styrolution America LLC; Lifoam Industries, LLC; Pactiv Evergreen; and Republic Plastics.

Cook County is the 30th grant recipient to receive this funding since 2015. Over 10 million additional residents in the U.S. and Canada can recycle foam polystyrene because of FRC grants. Visit to learn more about foam recycling, read about previous recipients or apply for a grant.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *