“It's an uphill battle, a real perception issue. It's ingrained in people at an early age that it's not recyclable,” Westerfield said. “That was a battle that we've had in New York City, especially with folks telling elected officials things that were incorrect. We're saying no, it's recyclable, we just need to give people access. That's what we have to do everywhere.”
An amendment to the measure passed by the New York City Council in December 2013 gives officials a year to determine whether foam can be recycled in an “environmentally effective, economically feasible and safe” manner, or else the ban takes effect July 2015. New Yorkers throw away an estimated 23,000 tons of PS per year, according to city officials.
Even those who already know PS is recyclable sometimes need help.
“Some people don't realize it's recyclable and some people, even when they know it's recyclable, they need help getting started,” Westerfield said. “When Gary Frederick contacted us for help sourcing, one of the first questions we asked was if he had a drop-off site. We have experience getting those done and promoting them so they get volume from the public.”
Dart is also hosting more than collection points. At the recently launched www.homeforfoam.com, people can learn about foam recycling, the equipment, markets and more, Westerfield said. And www.dart.biz/recycle lists company-owned and non-Dart locations for PS recycling drop-off, including Princeton Moulding's new collection point.
With local permission secured and public awareness on the rise, Princeton Moulding still anticipates a few hurdles once with drop-off is up and running, though nothing too serious.
“The biggest issue is people putting things that don't belong in there,” Frederick said, such as polyethylene foam and polyurethane. Heavily soiled PS also slows down the sorting process. “But the more you can collect the less you have to buy,” he said, so the by-hand nature of going through locally collected PS is more labor intensive, but worth it.
“It's good for the environment and creates local jobs,” he said. “We're really, really busy and that's a good thing.”