Tag Archives | business

Local Styrofoam Recycling: ReFoamIt

Local Styrofoam Recycling: ReFoamIt  {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

For the longest time,  I didn’t think anything could be done with Polystyrene – or better known as Styrofoam.  It has the chasing arrows #6 recycling symbol on it?  Why can’t I recycle it with all my other plastics and glass.  The answer always came back – sorry, no.

The reason is one of simple economics.  No one seemed to want recycled Styrofoam.  No demand, no need to collect it.

Well, that has changed!   About 4 years ago, I heard of a company called ReFoamIt, then out of Framingham, MA.  They recycle Styrofoam!  I have spoken with Dave and Barbara Sherman, owners of ReFoamIt, a few times over the years at various events and have watched their business grow.  

When I first met them at the Westford Farmers Market in 2010, they were hauling the Styrofoam to Rhode Island for processing and held a few collection events a year to collect Styrofoam.  Now, they have their own facility in Leominster, MA, hold several collection events, have containers collecting Styrofoam in many towns in MA, have agreements with business that have excess Styrofoam and can accept Styrofoam at their facility.

In Leominster, they sort all the Styrofoam that comes in.  Dave explained that they have to separate colored Styrofoam and process it separately.  They must also ensure that all of the items are, in fact, polystyrene and are free of any tape or paper.  The Styrofoam is then ground into bits.  From there it is densified into large blocks for transporting to a manufacturer who will reuse the material.  The grinding machine used  was found used on ebay!  Talk about recycling!

Densified Styrofoam

38 lbs of Styrofoam “densified”

A pickup truck load of Styrofoam can be densified into a block such as the one above.  This block is approximately 2 ft. by 1 ft. 10 inches and weighs 38 lbs.  

Most of ReFoamIt’s Styrofoam gets sold to a company in Tennessee.  “I believe in doing American business in America.”,  explains Dave.   Recycled foam can be made into picture frames and house molding.

Many towns/cities have containers for their residents to recycle with ReFoamIt.  They include Harvard, Newton, Carlisle, South Hadley and Newburyport.  Many more, like Sudbury, Westborough,  Melrose, and Ipswich, hold special collection days during the year.  

Now I am all for REDUCE as the first option, but in some instances it may not be possible.  If you can then combine recycling with a cost savings, win-win!  The cost savings have to be of interest to businesses.  If you are business that deals with a lot of Styrofoam, take a look at this.  If you can reduce your number of dumpsters or times they are emptied, you know you will save money!

The picture at the top is one load from a company in Uxbridge, MA.  This company sends 2 to 3 trucks weekly with approximately 1200 – 1400 pounds of foam per load.  This company makes Styrofoam products and sends their rejects and scrap here for recycling.  

A furniture company used to fill 3 dumpsters in less than a week.  They were paying to have the 3 dumpsters emptied twice a week costing $60 per dump – that’s $360 per week.  Once they found ReFoamIt, they were able to reduce to one trash dumpster, emptied once per week, and one Styrofoam container emptied once per week.  This saved them about $200 per week in trash fees.  Dave related a similar story involving a hospital that saves $4,000 per year in trash fees by recycling their foam.

If you would like to recycle your Styrofoam, call ReFoamIt to arrange for an appointment.  A few other tips I picked up from Dave:

  • Remove any tape
  • Make sure there is a #6 recycling symbol 
  • Do not crush or break the pieces.  They need to be able to see the #6 recycling symbol.
  • Packing peanuts not accepted. They can go to a UPS or similar shipping company.
  • Foam wrappers like this, are not accepted

Styrofoam Not Accepted

For more information on what is and is not accepted,  look here.

 

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Walmart and P&G are Phasing Out Harmful Chemicals

 Walmart and P&G phasing Out Harmful Chemicals

 

This week, Walmart announced they will be attempting to minimize the harmful chemicals in their household cleaning, personal care and beauty and cosmetic products.  Beginning in January 2015, Walmart will require their suppliers to disclose, online, ingredients contained in products sold on Walmart shelves.  This is a HUGE step as none of these products currently are required to disclose their ingredient lists anywhere.  Walmart will also work to reduce the use of 10 “high priority” chemical ingredients.  The list of 10 has not yet been disclosed but Walmart assures Safer Chemicals Healthy Families that the 10 are on its list of the “Hazardous 100+”.  Another distinction is that Walmart will be working with suppliers to ensure the replacement chemicals aren’t just as bad.

Proctor &Gamble announced earlier in the week that it will eliminate triclosan and dibutyl phthalate from all of its products by 2014.  Triclosan and phthalates are believed to be hormone disruptors.

I am VERY happy with these announcements!  It shows that companies are listening to consumer concerns.  I constantly feel like I have to be a scientist to go shopping – is this made of PVC, what are the ingredients, is that one a safe one?  It has this certification, but does it really mean anything?  It is enough to make your head spin.  Fix it from the top!  If manufacturers and retailers can rid our shelves of dangerous chemicals, then I don’t need to worry, as much.  There are still plenty of other decisions I will need to make.  But trying to pick the hand soap that DOESN’T have an ingredient possibly adding to antibiotic resistant bacteria – yeah I don’t think anyone wants that.

This also covers the other shoppers who may not even be aware that their cleaning product or tube of lipstick could be harming them.  I was one of these consumers once, and probably still am in other areas.  I remember years ago, my children were small and I was just beginning to go green.  I started seeing “no growth hormone” stickers on milk.  I remember, clear as day, standing in the aisle of the grocery store with my 4 year old and 2 year old twins, just trying to get some milk and thinking “Did I need to worry about that?”  I had no clue what it meant at the time.

Say what you want about Walmart, but you can’t deny their reach.  According to Forbes magazine, they are the largest retailer in sales and the #24 “World’s Most Powerful Brand”.  If they rid their shelves of 10 dangerous chemicals, that is a significant drop overall. 

One thing that bothers me though is that I had a difficult time finding these announcements in Walmart or P&G press releases. Nor could I find it easily in main stream media.  If I missed it, please tell me.  I wish the companies and media saw this as more news worthy.

Let’s just hope they follow through and continue to do more!

What do you think about these announcements?

 

Photo used under Creative Commons by Walmart/Flickr

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