Malibu residents participated in America Recycles Day last month, a national event that encourages citizens to protect the environment. The Malibu City Council partnered with Sustainable Surf, Access, and Crayon Collection to help reduce, reuse and recycle polystyrene foam, paper documents, and used crayons.
The week-long event offered a paper and crayon collection, and encouraged residents to drop off polystyrene foam packing material at Malibu City Hall. Polystyrene foam is sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘Styrofoam®’, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.
As part of the Waste to Waves project, foam was collected by the environmental non-profit Sustainable Surf, then recycled by Marko Foam Inc. to make eco-friendly surfboard boards and other products. The city’s ongoing recycling and collection drives aim to help the state meet its goal of diverting 75 percent of the waste from landfills by 2020.
However, despite its efforts toward reducing overall waste, the city enforces a comprehensive ban on polystyrene foam food packaging and is working on additional restrictions of other sources of polystyrene foam. In many cases, a foam alternative generates more waste, and increases air and water emissions over its life cycle. Thus, a foam ban could actually increase landfill quantities. Foam is also far less taxing on the environment than most popular alternatives, some of which generate 181% more solid waste by weight than foam cups. Overall, a ban on foam does not address the littering issue.
When recycled properly, polystyrene foam can be turned into a variety of consumer goods, which the Waste to Waves project has discovered. Sustainable Surf co-founder Kevin Whilden estimates that Waste to Waves has recycled over 50,000 pounds of polystyrene foam since the program was launched in 2011. He stated that just twenty pounds of foam can be recycled into 20 surfboard cores.
Manufacturing company Dart Container Corporation applauds and supports the recycling efforts of polystyrene foam materials. Dart has also launched several programs to encourage individuals and businesses to recycle foam products, and has established 15 collection centers for recycling in North America.