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 people from the South by offering superior value, increased efficiency, and strong economic solutions across the region.

Foam has an understated value in America. It lowers costs on local businesses, leading to more jobs, which fuel state economies from Arkansas to North Carolina, from Georgia to Kentucky. Recycled polystyrene is extremely valuable because of its versatility. Once it’s recycled into pellets, manufacturers nationwide can use polystyrene for insulation.

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

Foam recycling programs have saved some schools between 20-40% on material collection fees. [ii]
Foam products help restaurants stay in business. From gumbo and crawfish in Louisiana to North Carolina barbecue to shrimp and grits in Alabama, each Southern state offers a unique dining experience for locals and tourists alike. Many Southern restaurants operate on razor-thin profits. Foam products help these small businesses succeed by providing an affordable and effective food storage solution for their patrons.

Foam is far more economical than alternative materials, as food-grade polystyrene containers are generally two to three times less expensive than the other options. Foam containers provide excellent insulation at a cost-effective price and allow hardworking South East 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).