Alberta City Recycling Pilot Program

July 29, 2014

The City of Airdrie, Alberta has partnered with a local organization to boost the recycling efforts of its residents. Airdrie’s Waste and Recycling Services department is specifically targeting the material polystyrene foam; by doing so, city leaders hope to divert excess waste from area landfills through a brand new recycling program. Consumers often mistakenly refer to polystyrene foam items as Styrofoam®, which is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. The material makes up several forms of the single-use foodservice products consumers prefer, such as hot beverage cups and take-away food containers.

Airdrie Waste and Recycle Services has partnered with the local business McArthur Fine Furniture to provide a new drop-off location for the disposal of used polystyrene foam. Because of this, city residents are now able to bring their own polystyrene foam material to the store, where it will be processed, recycled and reused in the production of new products. McArthur purchased a densifying machine in December of 2013 which allows the company to compress foam products to a fraction of its original size. Once the foam is compressed, it’s processed and able to be collected by manufacturers who then use it in the production of new consumer goods, such as architectural crown molding and picture frames. After just one month of collection, Airdrie Waste and Recycle Services have received enough polystyrene foam donations to fill a single-car garage. The pilot program remains in progress and will run through July 31, 2014. Several other provinces within Canada, including Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, already have successful city recycling programs in place.

Ensuring that polystyrene foam is responsibly disposed of is an effort also being made throughout the U.S. Several cities and organizations have partnered to bring awareness and implement programs meant to decrease the amount of foam sent to landfills and create new manufacturing opportunities. One such company doing their part for this issue is Dart Container Corporation, a Michigan-based manufacturer of foam products. Dart has developed initiatives such as the CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program, which specifically promotes the recycling of single-use foam cups within individual organizations. The CARE program provides participants with their own densifying device to compress foam, which is later collected by manufacturers for production needs.