A company in northern Michigan that sells its products to Walmart, Amazon, Michaels, Jo-Ann Stores, Hobby Lobby, and other retailers has debuted a craft and floral foam line made with post-consumer recycled plastic, the first on the market.
Ludington’s FloraCraft designed FōM with PolyRenew. The product is the first extruded polystyrene, or XPS, product on the market made with post-consumer plastic. It is made using recycled garment hangers sourced from retailers across the country and contains about 20 percent recycled styrene. FloraCraft is working to extend the amount of recycled content in the foam and aims for it to be made entirely from recycled materials in the next several years.
“FōM represents the first true innovation in this category in more than 70 years,” says Eric Erwin, CEO. “The craft and floral foam manufacturing industry has never used post-consumer materials to produce products until this point. By adding PolyRenew to our production process, we’re taking plastic that would normally end up in a landfill and making it into a high-quality foam product – a win for the consumer and the environment.
“We listened to our consumers, who told us they really want to use products that have been responsibly made. They want to know the foam used in their craft and floral projects is created with environmentally conscious materials, it doesn’t pollute the water supply, and is made right here in the United States. We listened: FōM is our first response, but it won’t be the last.”
Mixing recycled and new materials allows the company to make the same amount of product without the equivalent of nearly 1,000 miles of plastic, or the distance between New York and Louis, per year. The material is still lightweight but is now smoother and less brittle than the company’s original foam, making it easier to paint and cut while producing less dust. It also dents less easily.
The new product line comes after more than 10 years of research and development with multi-year capital investment. FloraCraft now designs, engineers, and produces its own XPS from its headquarters, ensuring quality and reducing shipping needs.
“With FōM, we have found a way to monetize recycled polystyrene, a plastic that isn’t traditionally considered a reusable material, while producing it all in house,” says Phil Gable, vice president of extrusion. “Most people in our industry would consider this a tall task because of the difficulty in recycling polystyrene and the resources it takes to become vertically integrated, but our team worked tirelessly for years to prove it can be done.”
FloraCraft began using Styrofoam brand foam in the aftermath of World War II. More than 40 years later, company founder Lee Schoenherr partnered with Texas’ Americas Styrenics to develop the recipe for the new XPS product.
“AmSty has been an incredible partner as we reimagined what foam looked like,” says Erwin. “They understood our vision of creating a more sustainable product without sacrificing performance. The end result was even better than we expected – and our customers think so too.”
In another sustainability effort, FloraCraft recycles more than 98 percent of its foam fabrication scrap, which is collected and reused in other FloraCraft products or sold to companies that use recycled materials.