It’s clean and lightweight and there are probably worse types of garbage floating around.
But polystyrene made of petrochemicals also takes its environmental toll and should be collected, rounded up and recycled to ring out any free energy that’s residing within the product.
Removing the bulky waste from the garbage stream can also extend landfill life.
But unless you can find someone willing to take it, there’s not much use in collecting it. Which is why the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society waited until last fall, when an end user had been found for the product.
With Foam Only now collecting old shipping Styrofoam, egg cartons and meat trays in the Lower Mainland, the depot can now act as a collection and distribution centre for the white waste.
“We started taking it in October, said recycling society executive-director Kim Day.
“People are happy [to recycle] because it’s something there’s a lot of.”
It will cost you, though, a twoonie for each garbage bag full of foam brought to the depot on 236th Street, south of River Road in Albion.
Day said Styrofoam isn’t collected at roadside by the recycling trucks because it would soon overwhelm them.
Instead, the foam is taken as drop-off only at the depot. The $2-a-bag charge is to cover the depot expenses.
Day said depot is collecting about two 12-metre-long trucks a month of it. That’s a lot, “when we really haven’t done a lot of advertising.”
Before, the foam was dumped into the waste stream and ended up the Cache Creek dump, the repository for Lower Mainland trash.
Once the foam is collected, it’s trucked to Foam Only in Coquitlam, where it’s turned back into picture frames, crown molding and baseboards.
According to Foam Only’s website, there are two types of Styrofoam, expandable polystyrene used for packaging electronic goods, in coolers or in helmets, and polystyrene paper used for food trays.
The recycling depot is gearing up for the next phase in recycling, when packaging and printed paper has to be recycled.
Deadline for finding a way to collect that is May 2014, but it’s an intricate problem that will require setting up an efficient collection system.
Multi Material B.C. is the umbrella agency involving retailers and manufacturers, charged with preparing a recycling plan for packaging and printed paper (office paper, newsprint, telephone books).
However, consumers are unlikely to notice any increases as a result of the new system.
Multi-Material B.C. wants to have a say in the collection of recyclables to see if there is a more efficient way, noting recycling operations now are set up along municipal boundaries.
The next step in recycling is collecting of food and green waste, which has to be put into the recycling stream by March 2015. The private companies collecting garbage in Maple Ridge will be able to accommodate pickup of that, Day said.