County officials in Arlington, Massachusetts, are urging their residents to recycle more often and apply the principle to a wide variety of products, including polystyrene foam. In an op-ed piece published to a local web source, a representative of the Arlington Department of Public Works sets the record straight about how and where to responsibly dispose of different products.2 Specifically discussed for recycling purposes are foam-based single-use items, such as hot beverage cups and packaging materials. These items are made of polystyrene foam, which is often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.
Charlotte Milan, the recycling coordinator for Arlington, wants residents to understand that collecting their used foam, instead of throwing it away, can add a value to community recycling efforts.1 On November 15, and again in May 2015, the Public Works division will invite residents to participate in a Community Collection Day event. At this gathering, they will host ReFoamIt®, a local company dedicated to collecting and recycling used polystyrene foam products.1 Once collected, the material is cleaned, processed and placed into a densifying machine, which compresses the individual items into a dense brick of foam. The bricks are then sent to manufacturers who use the material in the production of new consumer goods, such as picture frames and architectural crown molding. This process allows consumers to give new life to a product that was once considered waste, while supporting a business that is local to the Arlington community.
Several other cities and organizations across the U.S. are also implementing foam recycling programs based on the needs of their residents. More than 65 cities within California have adopted a curbside foam recycling program, meaning residents can simply leave their to-be-recycled polystyrene foam on their curb along with other recyclables and waste.2 Major corporations, including Chick-Fil-A, Walmart, and Best Buy, are also working towards more responsible methods of disposing of single-use foam items by implementing their own recycling initiatives.2 Through these efforts, each of the corporations’ environmental footprints will be reduced and they will able to provide raw materials to manufacturers for new consumer goods.2 The Arlington, Massachusetts, foam collection drive will make this same type of impact, and directly benefit the surrounding community.