Beginning January, 2015, Santa Cruz County residents and businesses will be able to recycle Styrofoam (aka expanded polystyrene, or EPS) at most of the County’s major landfills and UCSC. The EPS recycling program is a result of a grant by the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County to the San Lorenzo Valley Redemption & Recycling Centers (SLV RRC) of $33,100 for purchase of a mobile EPS recycling system. SLV RRC is a program of the Valley Women’s Club. SLV RRC is a program of the Valley Women’s Club. The Santa Cruz Sentinel covered the story on 12/1814.
In 2009, The County of Santa Cruz did a large waste study and found that 426 tons of Styrofoam entered the County that year. Most of the foam comes from packaging since food service foam has been banned since the County’s 2008 ordinance banning food foam. Other local municipalities followed suit soon thereafter.
The problem of EPS pollution is well known, especially in coastal communities around the Monterey Bay where small bits of lightweight plastics detach and appear as food to marine life. In addition, EPS takes up a relatively large portion of our landfill space in proportion to its weight and value. “Styrofoam has been high on the list of environmental concerns for a long time” says David Wright, Director of SLV RRC. “By making our recycling unit mobile we can go to where the foam is, densify it, and ship solid blocks of material instead of shipping air” says Wright. Polystyrene buyers then use it for things like picture frames and crown moldings.