The City of Calgary Waste & Recycling Services team is initiating a six-month residential pilot project to collect foam packaging, also known as Styrofoam, for recycling. Beginning May 13, Calgarians can bring foam packaging for recycling to the designated area at a landfill free of charge.

“Calgarians have been asking for a foam packaging recycling program, like the ones offered by other nearby municipalities for a while, says Elias Tomaras, Project Manager, Special Projects. “Calgarians are keen to keep recyclable materials out of the garbage, which is valuable in terms of extending our landfill space for future use.”

How it works:

  • Residential customers will be able to bring their foam packaging to any of the three staffed City landfills.
  • The pilot is free of charge unless other garbage or chargeable materials are in the load then disposal charges will apply.
  • Once at the landfill, customers will be directed to a designated area to drop off their foam packaging for recycling.

Calgarians can bring clean foam with no food residue, tape, glue or labels. Examples include:

  • Shipping foam packaging (ex: foam that protects new electronics).
  • Foam egg cartons.
  • Foam meat trays with absorbent pads removed.
  • Foam take-out containers.
  • White and colored foam. No black polystyrene foam.

If Calgarians can’t take their foam packaging to the landfill, then it should go in the black cart as garbage.

Foam packaging cannot be accepted in The City’s blue cart for recycling, because when the recycling is collected it gets compacted inside the collection truck to save space. Foam packaging breaks and crumbles easily during the collection process. The broken pieces cannot be separated from other recyclables and this mixture of materials is incompatible with the recycling process, meaning that neither the foam nor the other recyclable materials can be recycled properly.

Tomaras further explains why foam can’t be collected at The City’s Community Recycling Depots, “based on the experience of other municipalities and the requirements from the contracted foam recycler, the foam packaging can only be received at a staffed facility where staff can monitor what is being dropped off and how full the receiving bags/bins are. As the Community Recycling Depots are unstaffed recycling drop-off locations, the City landfill locations are a better option.”

Bringing your foam packaging to a City landfill location for recycling will keep this material out of the garbage, ensuring these materials get recycled and turned into something new. The recycled foam packaging is melted down and used again to manufacture various products including cabinetry, bike helmets, tiles, frames and other plastic moldings.

The foam packaging collected at City locations is picked up by a private recycler, Styro-Go, and taken back to their facility, in Calgary for processing. Styro-Go uses a hot-melt densifier that reduces the foam into bricks to allow for economical and easy transport of materials to be recycled.

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