On Saturday September 12, a round up was held for Red Deer Residents to recycle Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) (commonly known by Dow’s tradename as Styrofoam). The pilot collection event was a collaboration between NOVA Chemicals, Styro-Go, the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) and the Alberta Plastics Recycling Association (APRA).

Residents were invited to drop off their clean white foam at the collection event in conjunction with ARMA’s used paint and oil round-up. Physical distancing measures were practiced, and facemasks worn by both the public and the event workers. Residents drove through the stations and volunteers removed the EPS from their vehicles. Overall, the event gave organizers a sense of interest from residents to participate in EPS recycling; 32 vehicles dropped off 125 lbs of foam.

From l to r: Melanie Mark (NOVA Chemicals), Robert and John (Styro-Go)

“As a resin manufacturer in the region, NOVA is highly supportive of increasing opportunities for plastics recycling,” commented NOVA sustainability team member Melanie Mark. “We are happy with the outcome of the pilot, which will help assess the logistics and sustainability of a full-time program.”

The event was made possible by APRA’s member, Styro-Go, a recycler of EPS across the province that has developed the technology to offer efficient recycling. Styro-Go’s trucks contain a machine that crushes and densifies the EPS to a ratio of 90:1. Because of the high volume, but low weight of EPS, densifying is essential to improve efficiencies and reduce costs for shipping. The company can process as much as five full size (53 foot) transport trailers full of foam and densify that material into a small five-ton truck. Once the air is removed from the plastic foam, the plastic forms ingots that are shipped to markets where they are remanufactured into items like window moldings and picture frames.

“EPS is highly recyclable and with our services, companies and municipalities can significantly reduce the amount of material, and cost to send EPS to landfill,” commented Robert Herritt, founder and CEO of Styro-Go. “The environmental and financial benefits are large.”

Since its inception in 2016, Styro-Go has recycled 550 tons of EPS, the equivalent of over 2 million cubic feet of EPS and 1,500 tons of carbon.

“All three of our members came through to make this event a success, we need this collaboration to make recycling programs sustainable,” remarked APRA’s executive director Tammy Schwass. “We will continue to look for ways to advance these programs and provide recycling opportunities to Albertans.”