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How a local resident is making recycling foam easy

One man’s mission to divert plastic foam products from our landfills and give them new life.

Feed Me Foam drop-off site

Meet Allen’s mobile densifier, Audrey III.

Photo from @feedmefoam

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Did you know it takes 500 years for Styrofoam to decompose in a landfill? Thanks to a Mars Hill resident’s business, Feed Me Foam, it doesn’t have to.

Paul Allen created Feed Me Foam in May of 2022 after identifying that there were no resources to recycle Styrofoam, aka expanded polystyrene or EPS, in Western North Carolina. Using a small grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources along with his personal funds, Paul purchased a truck and densifier to begin recycling.

Let’s break it down (literally)

EPS is a plastic product derived from petroleum not allowed in your home recycling bins. Since EPS is made up of more than 90% air, the lightweight and bulky nature of the products mean the collection and transportation impacts of recycling EPS often outweigh the environmental benefits.

That’s where Feed Me Foam comes in. Paul collects EPS and puts it into his mobile densifier to grind, melt, and compact into blocks. Then, he finds a buyer to introduce it back into the recycling market. “It doesn’t have to go to our landfills, but we have to find where to recycle EPS,” says Paul.

Where to take your EPS

Do you have EPS that needs recycling? Feed Me Foam will be at the Enka-Candler Tailgate Market tomorrow, May 25 from 3-6 p.m. and at the Mars Hill Farmers and Artisans Market on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Plus, Asheville Greenworks will be collecting EPS at its Hard 2 Recycle event this Saturday, May 27 at the Asheville Outlets parking lot from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Unsure of what you can and can’t put in your home recycling bin? Explore Earth 911 to find out what to recycle and where.