Foam 101: Recycle #6


"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 #6 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