Polystyrene foam is not biodegradable, meaning every food and drink container that gets thrown into the landfill will sit there forever. “It became obvious that we needed to do something to reduce our waste,” said Donna Medlin, Mercy Hospital Springfield’s food services director. “When the opportunity came along to recycle these containers, we couldn’t wait to get started. We’re proud to be the first hospital in the state of Missouri to recycle our polystyrene.”
Dart Container offers the CARE (Cups Are Recyclable) program. It begins with separating foam from other products, consolidating it and bagging it for recycling. Mercy Hospital Springfield is using a densifier, which breaks down the collected material to save storage and transport space.
“What our co-workers throw into the recycling bins will eventually end up as things like home insulation or even picture frames,” said Medlin. “And the containers don’t even have to be completely clean. We just have to scrape away excess food.”
Dart Container predicts the program will produce at least 10 to 15 cylinders each week of densified foam to be recycled. Each cylinder is equal to about 8,000 eight ounce cups. As more people become familiar with the program and make use of the recycling bins, that number will grow. “It’s the right thing to do for our community and for our planet,” said Medlin. “We are so excited to see how much waste we can save.”