Once again, Master Gardeners are sponsoring a community service Styrofoam collection and recycling event. The “S.O.S. – Save Our Styrofoam from the Landfill” drop-off will be held Saturday, January 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, January 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The drop off will be held on Microtronics Way just off Camage Avenue in the Tuolumne Road industrial park. Take Tuolumne Road to Nugget Boulevard or Standard Road and follow the signs. Waste Management (Cal Sierra Division) is providing the large enclosed containers into which the Styrofoam will be packed. All you have to do is load the material in your car or truck, drive on by, and Master Gardeners will help you unload.
How can you participate?
- Look for the #6 in the recyclable triangle label on the bottom of the material.
- Donate only clean, white, packaging foam and rigid, white, foam insulation.
- Remove tape, labels, stickers, paint, cardboard and any other non-polystyrene materials
- Please note: this year we can NOT accept colored Styrofoam or food containers
- We cannot accept bubble wrap or packing peanuts
- Groveland residents may leave their #6 white Styrofoam at the Groveland Fire Department.
Many holiday gifts-think electronics and wine-come packed in the stuff. Packaging foam is typically used to pack computers, TVs, appliances, furniture, wine, steaks, and medications. Foam insulation is typically used around building foundations and to insulate pipes.
Some packaging materials are now made from other kinds of foam. Only #6 expanded polystyrene foam can be reprocessed and extruded into construction materials by our recycler. For the same reason, packing peanuts and other kinds of packaging materials, like bubble wrap, cannot be collected during the Styrofoam recycling event. Pac N Copy, in the Junction Shopping Center, and some other shipping companies will accept your packing peanuts and some other packaging materials.
Please don’t toss this material into the trash – it’s a disposal nightmare. It doesn’t weigh very much, so doesn’t count much toward garbage haulers’ diversion numbers, the report to the California Integrated Waste Management Board of how much tonnage has been diverted from landfills. Unfortunately, even though lightweight, Styrofoam is bulky and takes up lots of space in the landfill.
Once collected, the foam will be compacted, baled and transported for recycling. Timbron International in Stockton, an extrusion manufacturing facility, is actively seeking sources of Styrofoam. They are eager to acquire all the polystyrene they can and have agreed to accept all we can gather, because “it’s the right thing to do.” They’re committed to helping recycle polystyrene locally to be used to make extruded moldings for the construction industry. Their products are available for purchase at local home centers, and are both recycled and recyclable. Be a part of this process – let’s make history together.
For more information, contact the Tuolumne County UC Cooperative Extension office at 533-5695, the Tuolumne County Master Gardener office at 533-5696, or Peggy Andrews at 962-7264. For gardening questions, call the Master Gardener hotline at 533-5912 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Bergsund, a former member of the Master Gardener S.O.S – Save Our Styrofoam planning committee and Rebecca Miller-Cripps, Tuolumne County Master Gardener Program Coordinator, collaborated on this article.