Get ready to hold on to your hats!! This may flip everything you ever thought about recycling!
Back in February we shared with you about Agilyx, a company located just up the road in Tigard that has been getting a LOT of national attention. In the blog, First Choice: Stop Using! Second Choice: Recycling Coming, I wrote that you should stop using polystyrene products (like Styrofoam coffee cups) but to keep your ears open, since the Styrofoam Committee was working hard for McMinnville. We’re getting oh so close, now and it is time to give you an update!
First, let’s get this out of the way. Most of us call it Styrofoam, but it is important to state that that is a trademarked name, just like Xerox and Kleenex. And just like Xerox and Kleenex, the term Styrofoam is used by most people for ALL similar products, no matter the manufacturer.
We’re talking about a kind of plastic that up to now has not typically been part of the recycle stream and took up a LOT of space in landfills. So of course Zero Waste McMinnville has been seeking a solution as part of our goal to reduce the amount of trash heading to the landfill.
The Styrofoam Committee identified that the city of Tillamook had received a grant to purchase a densifier, a machine that would smash certain kinds of Styrofoam into denser smaller pieces. An arrangement is being made to periodically use this densifier, located on a trailer for easy transport, in McMinnville. Some of the waste will then be carried back to Tillamook for them to use and the rest will go to Agilyz.
The magic that Agiliyz’s proprietary process uses breaks down the plastic, the polystyrene, into its styrene oil origins with little waste. This oil, then, can be reused to make more polystyrene. And again and again, unlike other plastics which can be recycled only once before they can not perform well any longer.
The next piece of the puzzle is how to collect it. While Recology’s curbside pick-up has expanded beyond landfill trash to mixed recycling, glass, and yard waste, they can’t pick up EVERYTHING we want to get rid of. People who are excited about other kinds of recycling already understand how to bring other items to the Depot. Check out the blog, Move over Wineries! There’s a New Tourist Destination in Town! that explained how so many items are collected there! Recology is looking for space for a Styrofoam collection point that will keep the disposed items dry.
What does this mean to us living in McMinnville? Well, pretty soon we will let you know where to bring your Styrofoam! That means those slabs of foam inside the box that packaged your newest television or computer or other precious item will be able to go into the recycling stream!!!
And while we want all vendors at Zero Waste events to stick with compostible food service items at this time, it will probably make them thrilled to know next year we should be able to happily accept polystyrene items. These tend to be less expensive, which businesses with slim profit margins appreciate.
When the time comes we will provide clear information on how to identify those plastics that fit the Agilyx requirements. Meanwhile, please understand that this is Zero Waste McMinnville at work: a small group of impassioned volunteers who recognize that our city CAN be cleaner and have a smaller environmental footprint.
Please join us. We have more projects that need attention, including one where no current volunteer has any expertise: construction and demolition waste. This is the largest and heaviest segment of trash that goes to the landfill and if we can divert that, we will be well on our way to making McMinnville the first city in Oregon to be a Zero Waste city!