Polystyrene foam recycling returns to Ontario communities thanks to multi-sector partnership
Runi SK 120 Densifier machine to be a "game changer" for two communities
May 30th was a "remarkable day in the history of recycling in Brockton and Hanover", according to the Chair of Brockton's Environmental Advisory Committee, Bruce Davidson, who performed the master of ceremony duties at an event to announce that polystyrene (plastic foam) recycling is returning to Brockton and Hanover municipal recycling programs.
Bruce hosted guest speakers Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody, Hanover Mayor Sue Paterson, Bruce Power representative Danielle LaCroix and President and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) Carol Hochu.
Together they comprise the partnership, along with the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) in the United States which facilitated the installation of a new "green" machine called a Runi SK 120 Densifier at the Brockton Recycling Centre on Kincardine Highway in Walkerton.
Mayor Peabody called the machine "a game changer" for the local recycling programs because it can compress bulky polystyrene foam used to protect appliances and electronics during shipping, into compact bricks ready for shipment to recycling end markets.
The compressed bricks mean fewer trucks are needed to transport materials thereby saving fuel and reducing green house gas emissions.
In applauding the return of polystyrene foam recycling to Brockton and Hanover, Mayor Peabody noted that their unique mix of urban and rural communities is a place "where municipalities, local businesses and industry can work toward a common goal of identifying and supporting solutions that protect the environment and bolster the local and domestic circular economy."
Hanover Mayor Paterson said adding polystyrene to the recycling program again means the material will no longer be sent to landfill for disposal.
"Foam plastic doesn't compress very well when it is relegated to landfill. In fact, it takes up a lot of space...and landfill space is precious. We want to conserve it," she said, adding "our estimate is that with this new technology, we will be able to conserve the equivalent of twenty 53-foot-van-trailers of landfill space per year. That's a lot of saved space."
Both mayors thanked the industry partners, Bruce Power, Foodservice Packaging Institute and Canadian Plastics Industry Association, for helping fund their vision of adding polystyrene foam back into their recycling program.
Davidson said that residents will take to the material to the local recycling depots to recycle it. At first, the recycling depots will accept only protection packaging foam but down the road they'll add food service foam. Residents should watch for information posted at the recycling depot and on the Brockton and Hanover waste management and recycling website pages for information about the program.
CPIA President Carol Hochu credited the municipalities as being "role models showing that rural/urban communities can join forces to move beyond the ordinary to achieve the extraordinary".
She said the polystyrene foam that will be densified at the Brockton Recycling Centre will be shipped to end markets in Canada and the U.S. and could end up in cement and cement furniture products to lighten them and provide lightweight filler; in forms for foundation; in insulation boards and injected into walls for insulation; and to make products such as crown moulding and picture frames.
"With public and private sector partnerships like the one we are celebrating today, we are starting on a journey to 100% plastic recovery where the benefits of plastic are fully realized," she said, adding "the journey starts with innovation, creativity, commitment and responsibility. We applaud our partners, Brockton, Hanover, FPI and Bruce Power, for embracing them all...and let's not forget the residents who will recycle their foam packaging for their continued commitment to a better environment and economy."