As garbage removal costs continue to skyrocket, Passaic County is trying to think outside the box to further reduce the waste that is hauled off to landfills in trucks. The latest idea is to remove polystyrene from the waste stream.

Polystyrene, a plastic product used to make packing peanuts, Styrofoam products and other similar items, reportedly takes up 30% of the space in landfills. The county and Clifton arrived at a shared service agreement last month, to make the city the county’s repository for polystyrene. A few details have yet to be ironed out before the deal becomes a reality.

Even though it takes up almost a third of landfills, polystyrene has generally not been recycled. The puffy plastic product is quite light and voluminous, making it difficult to store in large quantities, and as a result it does not provide much of a return for the effort. To make it worth the effort, recycling polystyrene requires the use of a densifier, a machine that compresses the plastic so it can be more easily stored and shipped. In return for the use of the county’s densifier, Clifton will accept containers of the material from all 16 Passaic County municipalities.

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Author: Matt Fagan,