The Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF), with help from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), recently funded a pilot project in Toronto to evaluate the densification and marketing of curbside collected Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), commonly referred to by the trade-name Styrofoam. Support for this pilot project builds on previous CIF efforts to identify and overcome barriers to EPS recycling in Ontario.
The City of Toronto currently accepts EPS as part of its curbside cart-based collection program. This latest pilot project is focused on EPS placed in plastics bags and manually recovered at Canada Fibre's Arrow Road MRF. At the facility, plastic bags of EPS are normally emptied into an MRF bunker, but for the purposes of this pilot, bags were hauled to Toronto's Dufferin Facility for densification using a RUNI SK200 densifier.
Following further sorting at the Dufferin Facility, nine pallets of densified EPS bricks (or blocks of densified EPS) were processed over an eight-day period. A total of 1,750 kg of EPS was densified, with each pallet containing approximately 200 kg of EPS bricks. After distribution of the densified EPS to potential re-processors for evaluation, no viable domestic market could be established for either the densified EPS, or standard baled material, at the existing quality.
Another CIF Project, completed in 2014, concluded that the net cost to collect EPS curbside in urban centres ranged from $1,500 to $2,800 per tonne. Findings from this new densification pilot project supported the 2014 project conclusions.According to the CPIA, they have been assisting the City of Toronto over the last year by arranging for re-processing of EPS at a facility in Indiana on an as-needed basis. There there is not currently a sales contract in place for acceptance of baled or densified EPS.