Best Practices In Recycling Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Packaging Materials

Murphy, Andrew
Area of Honors:
Supply Chain and Information Systems
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert A. Novack, Thesis Supervisor
  • John C. Spychalski, Honors Advisor
  • Supply Chain
  • Expanded Polystyrene
  • EPS
  • Packaging
  • Sustainability
  • Recycling
  • Environment
Expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam, is difficult and costly for many companies to recycle. Much of it gets sent to landfills where it does not decompose, posing harm to the environment. Company X is among these companies with the inability to successfully implement a recycling program. This thesis seeks to identify large-volume EPS recycling best practices and a practical application for Company X. EPS recycling methods were analyzed, interviews with recyclers were conducted, alternative recycling methods were assessed and EPS alternatives were found. The analysis results were applied to Company X, determining that the most responsible and cost-effective recycling method would be to implement a donation program to a local food bank, as well as register for the Materials Marketplace for long-term action. Company X also has an opportunity to influence its manufacturers and suppliers’ behaviors by suggesting alternative packaging materials, designs and management. The results of this thesis can be applied to companies struggling to recycle expanded polystyrene or other like- material, and can lead to more environmentally-conscious business practices.