A Massachusetts-based expanded polystyrene foam recycler is going out of business, a casualty of cratering recycled resin prices and building problems.
Company owner David Sherman, who founded ReFoamIt LLC with his wife Barbara five years ago, was unhooking equipment June 1 with an electrician at the Leominster, Mass., business.
“We thought we were actually going to make money this year,” Sherman said. “It looked like we were going to be OK and then we got booted out.”
ReFoamIt was forced to leave its leased space after fire and insurance officials told the company's landlord the site needed a better fire suppression system.
“We really haven't been making a lot of money in the five years [in business]. What happened was due to the sprinkler system that they claim isn't sufficient for recycling [foam] in the building, our landlord said we had to leave,” Sherman said.
“We had to leave and we couldn't find anything for less than double what we were paying here. Since we really weren't making any money to start with, I wasn't going to pay twice the rent,” he said.
The Shermans spent five years trying to build a business that they believed was finally going to be in the black in 2016. “We were just starting to get to the point where we thought we were actually going to make money this year,” he said.
“It looked like we were going to be OK and then we got booted out. It just made it so difficult. I've just been so frustrated. I've been doing this five years and I haven't drawn a paycheck yet,” he said.
At 68 years old, Sherman has been living off of retirement income, he said. “And fortunately, I have a wife that has a very good job.
“It hurt us really bad with the price dropping on the value of recycled foam. A year ago we were getting 40 cents a pound because we sort all our stuff and make a nice, clean, white product. And now we're down to like 15 cents. It's killing us,” Sherman said.
ReFoamIt recycled a variety of EPS products, including packing blocks, food trays, take-out containers, hot cups, egg cartons and insulation sheets. The company also accepted polyethylene foam.
Despite the closure of ReFoamIt, Sherman said he might not be out of the foam recycling business completely. He's considering the possibility of continuing to collect the material to be processed elsewhere. He also is looking at setting up processing equipment at two fish companies.
No longer having a building of his own would help lower Sherman's costs.