University of North Carolina Wilmington Expands Polystyrene Recycling with Support from Foam Recycling Coalition

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s demand for recycling services has markedly increased since the start of its recycling program in 1989. What began with a five-person operation has expanded to include collections, hauling, and processing capabilities with an on-campus hand-sorting material recovery facility and drop-off center (The Depot). Now, with the help of the Foam Recycling Coalition, the university will expand its polystyrene foam recycling capabilities to meet increased volumes.

UNCW received a $9,627 grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC) to purchase four containers to collect the increased volume of polystyrene foam. It will add a second densifier, donated to the university, that will double the capacity to process foam, including packing blocks, coolers, peanuts, foodservice containers, egg crates and meat trays.
“99% of all foam collected at UNCW comes from off-campus via drop-off at either our MRF or The Depot. As well as receiving material from the public, we partner with local businesses to process their foam,” said Feletia Lee, chief sustainability officer with UNCW Business Services. “UNCW is looking to expand our relationships with the city and county to target foam in their operations.”

“The University of North Carolina Wilmington is making strides to meet demand and create a circular economy with over 95% of materials processed on campus being sent to vendors in North Carolina. The Foam Recycling Coalition is proud to support the university’s efforts to divert more foam polystyrene from landfills,” said Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, which oversees FRC.

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.; Dolco; Dyne-A-Pak; Genpak; INEOS Styrolution America LLC; Lifoam Industries, LLC; Pactiv Evergreen; and Republic Plastics.

UNCW is the 27th grant recipient to receive this funding since 2015. Over 8 million additional residents in the U.S. and Canada can recycle foam polystyrene as a result of FRC grants. Visit to learn more about foam recycling, read about previous recipients or apply for a grant.

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