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City to launch styrofoam recycling pilot project
Woodstonians frustrated by throwing out piles of styrofoam, particularly with the trash-producing holidays coming up, will soon have an alternative.
City council just approved a one-year pilot project to recycle extruded polystyrene – the rigid styrofoam often found in electronics and appliance packaging – that will help residents avoid adding more trash to the Salford landfill.
“We want to divert as much as possible from the landfill,” Taylor Crinklaw, the city’s director of public works, said.
Partnering with St. Thomas startup Second Wind Recycling, the city wants residents to drop off their styrofoam to the Enviro Depot on James Street. That styrofoam will then be placed in a large steel container to keeps it clean, dry and out of the sun, so it won’t degrade.
When the container is nearly full, the city will contact Second Wind owner Dane Rice, who will arrive with a mobile EPS densifier, compact the styrofoam on site to reduce transportation costs and recycle the material.
Rice declined to get into the specifics since the project hasn’t started yet but said he was anxious to help with recycling this kind of styrofoam.
Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the not-for-profit Recycling Council of Ontario, said it’s promising when municipalities try to find solutions to increase recycling.
The mobile aspect of the $11,000 pilot project also takes out the most expensive part of transportation by letting the recycler come to them, she said.
“You can rally your residents more easily. A lot of the smaller municipalities we work with are the ones solving the plastic bag issue,” she said. “If you can talk to all your stores in a few days, you’re in a better spot than a Toronto which has tens of thousands of stores.”
Crinklaw said the project began when Rice reached out in June to Harold de Haan, the city’s top engineer, about making recycling styrofoam more feasible.
Rice helped finance his startup through the $58.7-million Continuous Improvement Fund, a partnership with several provincial partners intended to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal recycling.
After Crinklaw joined the city in the summer, that proposal fell under his portfolio, so the two worked together from late August.
Crinklaw said they hope to have the project running before mid-December for the Christmas rush.
“The biggest demand from my end is you want to collect all the packaging introduced as a result of Christmas,” he said.
Woodstock previously had a drop-off program for this kind of styrofoam, but it was cancelled because of food contamination and program costs.
With the materials being dropped off at the Enviro Depot, the type of styrofoam can be monitored by staff and separated before it’s recycled.
“We’re not looking to contaminate the potentially recyclable material because that’s the driving force behind the program,” said Crinklaw, adding there will be information in the depot on what is and isn’t accepted.
The costs will cover a steel storage container – pegged at $5,000 – for the Enviro Depot, as well as programming costs. The staff report stated about 14 metres would be picked up twice a month for about $130.
After the one-year trial, city staff will look at the outcome and council will decide on continuing the project.
Right now, the city is estimated 640 cubic metres will be diverted from landfills through the project.
“Municipalities trying to get creative with the variety of material they face on a daily basis is a very sound practice,” St. Godard said. “It’s not easy and these pilots can answer important questions. … If it’s low cost, then it makes sense to try.”
EPS Foam facts
- Second Wind Recycling picks require 14 metres or two full pallet boxes per visit.
- The Canadian Plastics Industry Alliance say 41 to 44 per cent of Canadian communities accept EPS in their recycling programs.
- According to the EPS Industry Alliance’s Canadian EPS Recycling Report, more than 6.7-million kilograms of EPS was recycled in 2018 after only having 800,000 kilograms in 2011.
- The EPS Industry Alliance report also had 113.8-million pounds of EFS being recycled in 2018 after a nine-year low of 64.8 million in 2017.
- A Canadian Chamber of Commerce report stated in 2012 an estimated 14.4 million pounds of EPS waste went to landfills.