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Bloomberg looks to ban foam cups

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 13 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 06:10:03 PM CST

Polystyrene foam, sometimes sold under the brand name Styrofoam makes lightweight, heat retaining containers.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Polystyrene foam, sometimes sold under the brand name Styrofoam makes lightweight, heat retaining containers. Some communities around the country have banned eateries from using to-go boxes made from it. Next it might be 86ed in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is working to eliminate the light weight food packaging from stores and restaurants.

"Well anything that can keep anything out of the landfill is a benefit to me," said Loretta Earnst.

Polystyrene is made from petroleum and some studies have linked it to cancer. Environmentalists aren't fans because it takes a very long time to break down. but recycling may be an option. Liberty Recycling in Allentown processes Styrofoam to be reused and remade into new products.

"It's ground up into very small chunks," explained Liberty Recycling Owner David Keshl. "It's then melted and fused together and forced out through an extruder."

Keshl says it's a 90 to one compaction ratio. An entire trailer load weighing 1,000 pounds will be processed down to fit in one box.

"That way it makes it economical to ship it back to a manufacturer," added Keshl. "In their process it's a lot faster to have a dense heavy object to start from instead of just a light piece."

Once at the manufacturer it can be made into a new Styrofoam product like a coffee cup, food container or packing for a new refrigerator or washing machine.

"You're recycling it, you're saving landfill space which is very critical to our nation," shared Keshl.

Some plants stay away from breaking down Styrofoam because it takes a lot of room and is a very costly investment. But not everything you think is Styrofoam really is. Foam that folds over can't be recycled, the real test is if it snaps.

Liberty Recycling takes Styrofoam from anyone any day they are open.