Foam 101


"6" Recycling logo

#6 Resin Identification Symbol

Developed in 1988 by SPI, a plastics industry trade association, resin identification codes (RIC) 1 through 7 indicate the materials used in plastic products. The #6 resin identification symbol identifies polystyrene (PS) or expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. Look for the #6 symbol stamped on the bottoms of foam cups and food containers, and in inconspicuous places on foam packaging materials.

Foam #6 Recycling Facts

  • Foam #6 is a thermoplastic that can be recycled over and over again.
  • More than 127 million pounds of foam #6 were recycled in 2014, according to the latest EPS Recycling Report from the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.
  • Foam #6 is approximately 95% air, which makes it extremely light weight. 
  • A 48-foot truckload of loose foam #6 products weighs only around 1,000 pounds. Once the foam is compacted, the same truck can hold 40,000 pounds of foam.
  • Assuming a $0.20 value per pound, a truckload of densified foam is worth $8,000.
  • Foam densifiers, which are used to compact foam for recycling, cost as little at $18,000. Learn more about foam recycling equipment.
  • Some, but not all, packing peanuts are foam #6.
  • Foam #6 cups do not have to be rinsed before recycling. However, foam food containers should be rinsed or wiped clean.

Interested in recycling your foam but not quite sure how? Quickly learn the what, where, why, and how of foam recycling — from job creation to environmental benefits — with this helpful infographic. To learn more about foam #6, visit FoamFacts.

The What, Where, Why and How of Foam Recycling: Infographic