Monday, November 26, 2007

Recycling polystyrene packing material in Wilmington

I have been storing packing material from some large purchases because I just couldn't bear to put it in the trash and end up in a landfill. Additionally after a year of living on Shellpot creek I am hyper-sensitive to Styrofoam in trash since every rain brings a new piece to be plucked from the stream. Thus I have been trying to recycle the Styrofoam packing peanuts and packing stuff that comes in with shipments.

In northern Delaware a company called Flo-Pac (actually FP International) collects Styrofoam and recycles it into more packing material. Their collection site is hidden away in an industrial park off of Ruthar Drive off of Harmony Road in Newark.

From North Wilmington it is a pain to get to and the trip should be avoided during afternoon rush hour. Take I-95 south toward Newark. Get off at the Rt273 exit going toward Newark. Go towards Rt 4 on Harmony Road from the Rt273 exit on I-95. Brave the reactionary traffic calming measures, go past Rt4 and make a left onto Ruthar drive. Make the first left into an industrial park onto Alan Drive, there is no sign. Go all the way to the end, past tons of Flo-Pac trucks.

The address is 111 Alan Drive (map). On the left is a door that looks like it goes into a factory, but is labeled pretty clearly, inside you can deposit Styrofoam for recycling into some bins.

I found out that they will take boxes full of peanuts or bags and loose form fitted polystyrene foam. It is clean polystyrene or Styrofoam only (specs here), no cellulose peanuts, no polyurethane foam. Other FP Locations can be found here.

Many years ago (13!) when I was a graduate student at the University of Delaware I organized our group of students to recycle the polystyrene packing material that we collected in the Chemical Engineering department. It was a pain because a little packing material takes up a huge amount of space. We finally told everyone where the place was and sent them off on their own. Only recently did I have enough packing stuff to return to the recycler for myself. I try to keep it to less than a trip every 6 months.

I am not sure that I was carbon neutral in my 40 minute round trip to recycle, but hopefully I won't see that Styrofoam floating down the creek someday.


Bryan said...
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Paul Smith Jr. said...

I have a bunch of styrofoam I was looking to recycle, and my Google search for "wilmington delaware styrofoam" turned this up as the first result. Not sure when I'll have the chance to get to Newark between 8 and 5, though.

Anonymous said...

You can come to drop off up to 11PM and if the plant is closed you can leave your recycables in a bag by the front door.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info - I can finally get it out of my house!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this information. Is there a way to get this posted on the Delaware Solid Waste Authority web page? What a relief to find a reasonable way to dispose of this nasty stuff!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that any drive is worth it to keep styrofoam out of the landfills. I used to live in the area, but now I drive 2 1/2 hours to recycle. Usually I combine it with visit to my son and friends. But it is well worth saving it and hauling it all the way from Northern New Jersey.

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Private said...

This recycling site is still active Jan17,2011. The people are very friendly and helpful.
Too bad this is not very well identified on DNREC site. Most pages on DNREC lead you to believe that stryfoam is not accepted any place in DE.

Tom Hooper said...

They are no longer recycling at that center. A sign above the door says to use the Delaware Solid Waste facility at 1101 Lambson Ln, New Castle, DE 19720, so I went there. It's at the very end of the street, across the railroad tracks. They have recycling containers on the left - a couple hundred yards after you enter. There's a shipping container just for polystyrene with large bags available to put it in. A couple of my pieces were too big for the bags, so I stacked them against the wall. They also recycle electronics like TVs and such in a neighboring container. It's off the beaten path, but a welcome alternative to the landfill.

Unknown said...

The closure of this location is really disheartening. Now I have an hour round trip to the Lamsons Ln location. I'm not sure that much fuel is worth it. Not to mention Flo-Pac actually uses the stuff. Who knows where the waste authority has to take it.