Published on March 8, 2023

Expanded Styrofoam Recycling at the Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot

The Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot is expanding Styrofoam recycling to include certain types of soft foam, coloured foam and meat trays. Since 2019, the depot has been collecting large white Styrofoam blocks from things like electronics, appliances and furniture.

“Like ‘Kleenex’ is a brand name for the material tissue paper, ‘Styrofoam’ is a common household name for #6 items made from expanded polystyrene," shares Katie Burd, Waste and Diversion Operations Supervisor. "However, expanded foams can come from polystyrene, polyethylene, and polypropylene. These are all different types of plastic resin, that when exposed to specific temperature conditions, expand or extrude, producing the lightweight material we know as Styrofoam."

What is Acceptable?

Large white packing blocks will continue to be accepted which are labelled with a #6 indicating they are made from expanded polystyrene.

New acceptable items include:

  • Coloured foams and meat trays labelled with a #6
  • Foam items labelled with a #5, which are made from expanded polypropylene.
  • Softer and more flexible foams labelled with a #4 made from expanded polyethylene

Accepted square styrofoam

Watch the video below to learn more about what types of Styrofoam are acceptable and how to identify them:

What is Unacceptable?

The following items remain unacceptable:

  • Styrofoam food takeout containers, cups and plates
  • Packing peanuts
  • Items labelled with #7 including memory, spray or liquid foam
  • Learn more by viewing the Styrofoam Recycling 101 page

Unaccepted dirty styrofoam containers

All items should be clean and dry as dirty or stained Styrofoam are not accepted.

Styrofoam is not accepted in your Blue Recycling Bag through the curbside recycling program. 

“Styrofoam can break apart easily and is therefore not accepted in Blue Recycling Bags. Once broken, it can contaminate other good recyclables or get stuck in sorting machines at the sorting facility and can be quite costly,” explains Katie.

If you are unable to determine if your item is acceptable for recycling or not, please email the City a picture at or ask staff on site at the Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot.

Recycling Symbols

Plastic resin codes range from #1 to #7, and each code corresponds to a specific plastic polymer. Historically, the City’s waste branch has avoided using these codes to determine if a material is accepted in the curbside recycling program, as some items may share the same resin code but have different rules for recycling. For example, both plastic grocery bags and laundry detergent bottles are made from #4 plastics (polyethylene), but only the latter are accepted for recycling in St. Albert’s curbside program.

When recycling Styrofoam, residents are asked to sort their items using the bins labelled with plastic resin codes.

“The expansion of Styrofoam recycling at the depot still focuses heavily on material texture and feel (rigid versus flexible foams), but we use the resin code number to further differentiate between foams. This is because #4 and #6 foams have different chemical structures, which means they must be treated slightly differently for recycling,” remarks Katie.

Accepted type of thin styrofoam

A Second Life for Styrofoam

Styrofoam is lightweight and bulky making it difficult and inefficient to transport. Styrofoam collected at the Recycling Depot is melted and densified on site, where all the Styrofoam in a full 53’ trailer can be densified into the size of a dishwasher!

Densified blocks are sent to various manufacturers to be turned into useful products like inserts for bicycle helmets and car seats, airplane countertops and picture frames.

Give your Styrofoam a second life by bringing it to the Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot.

Find more information on What Goes Where and download the Be Waste Wise app today! 

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Last edited: March 8, 2023