Porterville School District Grows Foam Recycling


Bringing recycling into schools is a great way to teach students the value of environmental stewardship while also reducing the amount of waste a school produces. Porterville Unified School District in Porterville, California has taken on this responsibility by utilizing a melter to recycle their polystyrene trays. 

Each day the school district uses about 9,500 foam trays, for breakfast and lunch at the schools in their district. Instead of sending them to the landfill, the school collects the trays and then runs them through a melter to turn the polystyrene into a solid block that can be used as feedstock for machines to produce new products. 

“It’s a new program in the Central Valley. When we got it, the only other district that also got one was in Earlimart,” said Manuel Rodriguez, director of nutrition services. “We place 1,000 trays at a time in there. It has a 1,200-tray capacity. We run it three times a day and are working with the night custodians to run it once or twice more.” 

The school has been very committed to their recycling program. They have had their recycling machine for over a year and are currently waiting on funds from the state to be approved to purchase a second unit. 

Porterville is not the only school that is recycling their polystyrene. K-12 schools all across the country are recycling their foam lunch trays. These schools work with corporations like Dart to acquire the recycling machinery and to coordinate pick up processes for the recycled foam. Districts like Los Alamitos Unified School District and schools like Westwood Elementary have already shown how effective it can be for schools to recycle foam. 

If your school is interested in starting a foam recycling program, please visit our website to learn more about how to get started. We have a list of facilities, lesson plans for teachers, and information for every aspect of foam recycling. 

Avila, Esther. “Maxii Melter converts Styrofoam to plastic" The Journal News. 29 January, 2015. Web. 16 February, 2015.