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Business partners with City for Styrofoam recycling pilot

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am

McArthur Furniture Airdrie store manager Darin Pound with the store's recently acquire polystyrene densifier. The machine has helped Pound reduce his company's waste by 95 per cent and prompted a partnership with the City's Waste and Recycling Services.
McArthur Furniture Airdrie store manager Darin Pound with the store's recently acquire polystyrene densifier. The machine has helped Pound reduce his company's waste by 95 per cent and prompted a partnership with the City's Waste and Recycling Services.
Matt Durnan

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Airdrie Waste and Recycling has expanded its service levels with a three-month pilot for recycling polystyrene (otherwise known by the common brand name Styrofoam).

The pilot project is in partnership with McArthur Fine Furniture, which owns a polystyrene densifier that compresses the product by 50 times for it to be repurposed. Some common uses for this product is crown molding and plastic picture frames.

McArthur Fine Furniture purchased the densifier in December 2013 and has been using it since January.

“Between the densifier and our cardboard compactor, we’ve eliminated about 95 per cent of our waste,” said Darin Pound, the store’s general manager.

In the first month of the pilot, without any intense promotion, Waste and Recycling Services has already collected enough polystyrene to fill a single-car garage.

Residents are encouraged to take their Styrofoam products such as clean fast food containers, meat trays, egg cartons and packing materials with the number six on the bottom to the east side recycle depot, where they will then be transported to McArthur Fine Furniture.

“If you’re unsure if the product can be recycled, bring it over to the depot anyway and our staff will determine whether or not it’s recyclable,” said Kathleen Muretti, manager of Waste and Recycling Services.

Up until now, there has been no option for recycling polystyrene products in Airdrie, and like the recently launched curbside organics pick-up, this pilot will help divert yet another product from landfills.

“Polystyrene never breaks down in a landfill, it’s all chemicals,” said Muretti.

“Through our educational component our advice is to just not buy these products at all because they’re just not sustainable for the environment.”

The pilot has already been running for a month and will continue throughout June and July and once completed, Muretti and staff will take a look at the possibility of implementing the program full time.

Currently the workload is not too much for McArthur Fine Furniture to take on, according to Pound, pending the amount of material they take in stays close to where it is currently.

“Right now, we’re taking in about 10 to 14 bags per week and we can handle that,” said Pound. “As long as it’s just residential waste we’ll manage, we wouldn’t be able to take (polystyrene) from commercial businesses.”

The partnership between McArthur Furniture and the City represents a joint effort to keep Airdrie green and Pound says he’s thrilled to be working with Muretti and her team.

“I know they’re pushing for a green city and to divert as much as possible from landfills,” said Pound.

“It had been bugging me for a while that this stuff was going to landfills and I know there used to be a sign up at the recycle depot that they didn’t take Styrofoam products. Anything that we can do to help out, this isn’t about making money or anything, it’s just about getting this stuff out of our landfills.”


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