What?!? STYROFOAM is recyclable??
Yes, you read that right.
Some people cringe when they get their take-out food in Styrofoam containers, or they may not even notice it. However, we all end up with similar questions towards the end of our take-out meal, What do I do with all this Styrofoam? Here at Recycle Smart, we strive to find the best cost-effective and environmental solutions for our clients. We discovered there is a local recycling plant (Foam Only) for Styrofoam, i.e. expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. Who knew a light airy material could be heated and compressed, and turned into building material! One highlighted project would be the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement project – Vancouver to Langley BC, where they used EPS to build 25 lightweight bridge embankments.
The Recycle Smart team had the opportunity to visit Foam Only located in Coquitlam. They work closely with residential recycling programs, so people know there is a solution for their take-out white containers, and electronic packaging and more; Noel, the founder of the company emphasized “it’s all about education.” We learned about how to tell the difference between pure PEL and other materials that look alike. If it’s light, white, and you can flake it, then It’s most likely Styrofoam. Noel’s machines like to keep things simple, so it only eats white Styrofoam, not coloured ones.
While walking through the busy chomping machinery, we were surrounded by the end raw material: giant and heavy blocks of PEL. Where does it all go? Like the economy, they never make things that simple, so it gets placed on a shipping container to China, and there, they use the recycled material to make goods such as building structures, and even picture frames!
Our team was bedazzled by the strength of the recycled Styrofoam. We are constant learners, and this is how we find the best solutions for our clients. Noel estimates he receives about 6% of the Styrofoam the city produces, which means the rest is going to landfill.
It’s important to remember, recycling is the last of the 3 Rs (Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle), and wherever and whenever possible, try to purchase responsibly by limiting products that come with Styrofoam packaging. Or purchase at stores that have take-back programs such as London Drugs. The world isn’t perfect, but together, we can make a positive impact!
For more information on Foam Only visit their website: foamonly.ca
Big Thanks To Noel Massey from Foam Only who took time out of his day to tour us through the plant!