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Award Letter and Report - Styrofoam Densifier

Posted by Sarthak Prasad on June 30, 2015

This project is intended to permanently set up styrofoam (expanded polystyrene, or EPS) recycling on the UIUC campus for the first time. This project aims to emulate a very successful program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; some funding has already been secured for student support and supplies from UW as part of an EPA grant that students and postdocs there have received. The key difference between UIUC and UW is that UW had the benefit of a local styrofoam recycler, and UIUC does not have that benefit: the closest recycler is in Indianapolis and the cost of transporting undensified EPS is too high for this to be viable. This project will establish a partnership with Community Resource, Inc. in Urbana, who have agreed to handle all of the logistics of picking up styrofoam from large containers (“gaylords”) in campus buildings, transporting it to their site, feeding it into a machine called a “densifier”, and selling the densified material to a company in Chicago. Community Resource, Inc. will in return pay back a portion of the proceeds from the sales in order to support student interns on campus who will promote and support the program. The goal of this project is to establish a self-supporting program that will ultimately capture most of the styrofoam waste from our campus and recycle it, while supporting student interns to oversee and continually improve the program.