Economic Impact

The foam industry provides thousands of jobs and saves schools, businesses, consumers, and government agencies millions of dollars every year. Polystyrene foam benefits the Midwest by offering superior value, increased efficiency, and strong economic solutions across the region.
Foam recycling programs have saved some schools between 20-40% on material collection fees.[ii]
Foam has an understated value in America. Eliminating foam use would kill jobs by increasing costs on local businesses, but a refocused emphasis on recycling would create more jobs and fuel the economy. Recycled polystyrene is extremely valuable because of its versatility. Once it’s cleaned, ground down, and heated, manufacturers nationwide can use polystyrene for insulation, as the base product of windmill blades, and as a major component of solar paneling. Foam is 100% recyclable, and banning its production for environmental reasons in favor of more expensive materials, is economically irresponsible.

Dart is especially conscious of the Midwest’s economic situation. Based in Mason, Michigan, Dart also has plants and offices in four Midwestern cities, and employs salespeople throughout the region. The repercussions of removing foam from the Midwest affect the hardworking men and women in the industry, from executives to plant workers. An informed foam recycling effort will not only create new jobs, but it will preserve existing jobs in the foam industry.

School districts across the country also rely on foam to keep costs down because a foam tray costs significantly less than a compostable tray. [i] By investing in education instead of cafeteria trays, the region’s schools can better serve their teachers, students, and communities.

Furthermore, foam products help restaurants stay in business. The Midwestern states offer a diverse collection of cuisines. In Illinois, Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza define the restaurants; Missouri rivals the Deep South with Kansas City barbecue; and who can overlook the dairy products and Friday night fish fries that Wisconsin is famous for?

However, many Midwestern restaurants operate on razor-thin profit margins and foam products offer them an affordable and effective food storage solution. Eliminating foam could cost some restaurant owners up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Foam is far more economical than alternative materials. Food-grade polystyrene containers are generally 2 to 3 times less expensive than disposable paperboard products and reusable foodservice items. These strong foam containers provide excellent insulation at a cost-effective price and allow hardworking Midwestern business owners – already facing higher prices for food, fuel, and everyday products – to save money in a challenging economic climate.

[i] Kelly Puente, Recyclable Foam Trays a Cure for Long Beach Schools’ Headache, PRESS-TELEGRAM, May 19, 2011, available at

[ii] Franklin Associates, Ltd. Final Peer-Reviewed Report: Life Cycle Inventory of Polystyrene Foam, Bleached Paperboard, and Corrugated Paperboard Foodservice Products (Prepared for The Polystyrene Packaging Council, March 2006).

[iii] California Business Coalition Says Senate Bill 568 Will Kill 8,000 Jobs in the Golden State, PRWEB, July 12, 2011,

[iv] Proposed California styrofoam ban highlights two green issues: Ecology and money, Monday, August 29, 2011;

[v] U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Regional Multipliers: A User Handbook for the Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II). 1997.