EPS Recycling: Nova Chemical

NOVA Chemical is a lead producer of plastics and chemicals; consumer, industrial and packaging products. NOVA also happens to be one of our partner companies! We mean, with a company vision statement that includes: investing in people, technology, and assets; upholding the principles of Responsible Care®; continuously improving everything we do; and delivering value to our customers, how can we not want to feature their recycling news in this week’s blog?


Recently, NOVA Chemical was featured in the Waste 360 story “Widening the Polystyrene Foam Recycling Stream” in efforts to effectively recycle and densify foam.


Summarizing their efforts, NOVA is partnering with Dart Corp., a food and beverage packaging manufacturer, to find recycling solutions for expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polystyrene foam (PS). Both EPS and PS contain volumizing size relative to its weight; new technology can densify it increasing the number of pounds loaded into a trailer. To densify the material, finding a way to collect enough foam to utilize and take advantage of densification benefits is a current obstacle.


To collect enough EPS foam, NOVA has collaborated with an environmental group, plastics processors and schools collect both EPS and PS. With their outreach, NOVA has seen significant improvement of recovered foam pounds;  in 2013 only 194 pounds were recovered to 18,307 pounds in 2015!


Recyclers who want to take in PS foam can be awarded grants as an incentive. According to Dart’s corporate director of recycling program states, “There is money in it for them, depending  on the material they produce and how efficient they are capturing it.” To maximize efficiency and minimize labor the infrastructure associated with densifying foam, it is fed through a chute which blows air through a tube connected to a grinder; accumulating into compacted foam logs (sounds easy, right? It can be very costly.).
Overall, the project is moving forward, but faces a few challenges with the growing movement: bins need to be emptied, more equipment is needed for operators to densify and ship and there is contamination associated with dirty foam. Educationally, people want to recycle foam by bringing it to NOVA, which is great, but many do not know that businesses can do it themselves! Making them aware of what can be done is needed.