Green News: Styrofoam & Heat Pumps


Polystyrene (#6 PS), known as Styrofoam, takes 500–1,000 years to biodegrade. Unfortunately, it is hard to recycle, and most of it ends up in landfills. Polystyrene foam is used in several ways: (1) the big white blocks that are used as packing material, (2) coffee cups and clamshell carryout containers, and (3) packing peanuts.

Abt Electronics in Glenview accepts white block Styrofoam (no peanuts, no food containers). Abt has a machine that compacts the Styrofoam by 90%. The compacted material is reused to make picture frames or plastic woods. The Abt recycling center at 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Glenview is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday–Saturday, 1 pm to 7 pm.

The Dart Corporation in Chicago and Aurora accepts a variety of Styrofoam products for compacting and reuse. They take clamshell containers, cups, and packing material. There are drop-off locations in various locations. One drop-off site is the City of Highland Park Recycling Center (1180 Half Day Rd.). It accepts clean Styrofoam products every Tuesday and 1st Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm.

Start a Styrofoam collection in your building or community! The Grand Dominion community in Mundelein, for example, collects Styrofoam at their lodge; volunteers deliver it to Highland Park on Tuesdays.

Packing peanuts are very hard to recycle. The best option is to keep them clean and secure in a bag (so they don’t escape and become litter) and reuse them, either yourself or by donating them to a local shipping store. UPS no longer takes them because they no longer use packing peanuts for shipping (they use bubble wrap).

Heat Pumps

Installing a heat pump in your home can reduce your energy use by 30%–60%. An air-source heat pump transfers heat between your house and the outside air. A geothermal heat pump transfers heat to your house from underground. While a furnace burns fossil fuels to generate heat, a heat pump transfers heat, which is much more efficient. It costs money to install a heat pump, but it’s a one-time effort that, once done, will reduce your energy usage for years.