Styrofoam lunch trays get new life

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Students at a North County grammar school are combining their lunches with lessons about recycling.

lunch tray recyclingThe nearly 700 Styrofoam trays they use during lunch are all being melted down and reused into a variety of products.

“The new technology can take contaminated Styrofoam melt it down and within five hours it’s ready to be reused into anything from a CD case to a picture frame,” said Robert Cargeeg of Western Recycling Technologies.

San Marcos Elementary is the first school to use the machine in San Diego County.

Students have learned how to empty their trays and place them into separate stacks that will later be thrown into the special recycling machine.

The machine costs $15,000, but over time school officials believe it will save the school money in trash and custodial fees.

On top of that, it’s the first time that this type of Styrofoam has been able to be reused, so now it won’t be piling up in a local land fill.

“By simply adding this machine to the school site we’ve been able to reduce the number of bags going into the dumpster by 90 percent,” Cargeeg said. “Instead of 35 bags of trash, they’re producing three and a half bags per day.”

The machine is being used in many Northern California schools and businesses already.

Principals and school leaders hope to set an example for the rest of the county.


  • Kathleen Reid

    I FOUND OUT THAT A SCHOOL CAN SAVE ABOUT 12,000PER YEAR WITH THIS MACHINE, EVERY SCHOOL SHOULD HAVE ONE. Is this amazg or what. Finally styrofoam is recyclable

  • Bob

    It's not safe by melting styrofoam your putting chemical fumes in the air also if your around it your now expose to it. Very bad idea, it a cancer causing machine….

  • Robert

    Styrene, the basic building block of polystyrene is a large environmental health concern
    as toxic chemicals leak out of these products into the food that they contain (especially when
    heated in a microwave). These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems. First of all its not safe to melt polystyrene lunch tray, there's lots of fumes that comes out from the unit when melting, bad for environment. The machine should not be at any schools. It's not safe for kids, school employees or neighbors. the US alone, over 100 cities and counties have outlawed polystyrene foam including:Portland, L.A. San Francisco, Orange County, Seattle and Hawaii while many others are
    working on banning foam including New York City.

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