Mary Bartlett, Recycling Coordinator at the Madison County Dept. of Solid Waste puts a piece of Styrofoam into the Densifier. submitted photo
The Dept. of Solid Waste has announced it will continue with its styrofoam recycling program in 2017 and for the forseeable future. Following the successful pilot program held in 2016, the necessary equipment to process styrofoam is installed and is ready for the after-Christmas rush.
Residents who wish to recycle styrofoam can pack up all their clean white styrofoam (EPS #6 only) in clear plastic bags with all tape and labels removed. Styrofoam must be white and can include packaging foam and clean white egg and take out cartons, foam cups (rinsed) and clean take out containers.
It is important to note the following items are not accepted. Packing peanuts, soiled containers, colored styrofoam and packing made of materials other than styrofoam.
In this voluntary program, residents can bring their styrofoam to any transfer station during regular hours for those stations. No curbside pickup is allowed.
“It feels great to be able to recycle this bulky, toxic substance,” said Recycling Coordinator Mary Bartlett. “It can be a money maker too. I have been quoted anywhere from 18 to 38 cents a pound.”
Compared to a penny a pound for textiles, it’s a valuable recycling commodity. The problem with recycling styrofoam has always been the bulk. A truckload of loose styrofoam only weighs about 400 pounds, hardly worth the trip from the recycler’s viewpoint.
It takes 50 years for EPS foam to break down, but since polystyrene is not biodegradable, it never really leaves the environment. EPS foam breaks into small pieces, and like plastic will cause problems in the digestive tracks of animals unlucky enough to ingest it. Foam is lightweight, yet bulky, especially packaging foam, and takes up a lot of space in our landfills.
Once densified, EPS becomes a valuable commodity and can be marketed by the truckload. Given the success of the pilot project, the Dept. of Solid Waste has installed a densifier and plans to begin marketing EPS in 2017.
For more information contact Mary Bartlett, Madison County Dept. of Solid Waste Recycling Hotline at 1-800-721-2208.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.