Several communities in Baltimore, Maryland were recently honored because of efforts to keep their streets clean and trash free. The city’s 2013 Clean Community Competition surveyed the boroughs within Baltimore city limits to track recycling, overall beautification and greening efforts put into effect over the last year. The awards ceremony at City Hall provided an opportunity to recognize the winners of the competition, but also to educate the public on an issue currently relevant throughout the city: the importance of recycling discarded items, including those made of polystyrene foam. Polystyrene foam is most commonly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, and is currently being recycled in cities throughout the U.S.
Polystyrene foam foodservice products are essential to thousands of thriving businesses within Baltimore. Restaurants and eateries use foam cups and serving containers daily because of the convenience they provide to consumers, and are competitively priced when compared to alternatives. Recently, the Baltimore City Council contemplated banning foam products. The council believed a ban would reduce the amount of trash being sent to area landfills, but the issue was quickly dropped due to the lack of education on the matter. Helping to lead Baltimore clean-up efforts and support the anti-littering campaign is Mike Levy, a representative from the American Chemistry Council. According to Levy, putting a ban on polystyrene foam “will not reduce litter since the substitute food service products would be littered as well. And trading one type of littered item for another simply changes the makeup of litter without reducing it.”
In order to reduce the amount of litter produced by its constituents, Baltimore should consider implementing a foam recycling program. Foam recycling is safe, effective and introduces new economic opportunities to communities. The process involves compressing foam with a densifying device so that it’s a fraction of its original size. The material is then sold to manufacturers who process the foam so that it’s able to be used in the production of brand new consumer items, such as picture frames and crown molding. Recycling foam not only reduces the amount of litter on streets and in landfills, but also reintroduces a once discarded material back into the consumer market.
Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation is one institution working with organizations and agencies across the U.S. to help implement foam product recycling programs. Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) Program, for example, promotes the recycling of single-use foam cups. Through CARE, participants are provided with their own densifying device to compress their foam waste so that it’s immediately ready to be purchased and used by manufacturers.
Source: Baltimore Brew