This week's print issue of Plastics News has a story from Steve Toloken about how groups are pushing for more use of secondary material recovery facilities (MRFs) to capture more plastics for recycling. (You can also click here to read the story online.)
Expanded polystyrene, ubiquitous in packaging, shipping and food service, is one of those items that most MRFs won't accept. Since I had a few boxes of EPS in my basement that needed to be cleared out, I volunteered to take them to my local city MRF and get some photos to go with Steve's story.
I live in a very environmentally friendly community with a strong curbside recycling program, but EPS isn't accepted in the blue bins. To recycle EPS, you have to take it yourself to the city drop-off center, pay $3 per carload and unload it yourself.
That means you have to be willing to recycle it, be able to haul it yourself and pay for the privilege. And I'm lucky to be able to do that. Steve mentioned that his only drop-off option for EPS is to drive an hour to the office of the EPS Foam Association.
Are most people willing to jump through those hoops to do the right thing? Absolutely not. It's hard enough to get them to recycle PET bottles.
Do I have a solution? No. But it's clear that creating a complete recycling infrastructure is going to take cooperation that goes well beyond a few community efforts and involves the entire industry.