Between the Black Friday sales and the big gifts, families find themselves with a lot of packaging – especially large polystyrene sheets used to protect fragile merchandise.
Before being introduced to Mark North, a former recycling coordinator for Randolph County, Monroe County had no way of recycling this type of solid particulate polystyrene.
Now, residents can drop it off at the Monroe County Health Department, located at 1315 Jamie Lane in Waterloo, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said his office plans to provide this opportunity “at least” until the New Year, but could pursue it longer if demand persists.
He said the county recycling center can’t collect this specific type of styrofoam because it doesn’t have the space to process it. If demand is high enough, the health department could look for ways to recycle styrofoam closer to home.
“If it looks like we are able to find enough materials to make it worth it, then we will look to find a permanent home for polystyrene recycling in the county, whether at another site or by trying. to do something at the recycling center (in County Monroe), ”Wagner said.
While working in Randolph County, North established a relationship with the Menard Correctional Center recycling program, as the program recycled several types of items for that county over a period of several years.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that the center received a grant for a densifier, when Randolph County began sending in certain types of styrofoam for recycling.
“He just melts it and extrudes it into a solid type,” North explained of the new equipment.
Working with Menard, North quickly learned that the residents of Randolph County weren’t the only ones to benefit from the partnership.
“(The inmates) really like it because it gets them out of the jail and they can work outside,” North said. “They’re actually learning trades like driving forklifts and working on vehicles, so it’s a pretty good deal for the jail, the prisoners, Randolph County and the other counties that use it.”
North said the correctional center was also able to collect revenue from the program.
“There is money in this recycling,” North said, adding that the benefits are greater due to the minimal labor costs of the prisoners.
When North moved to Monroe County earlier this year and found he was unable to collect the polystyrene particles, he began working with the health department to find a way to collect and transport this recycling from Monroe County to Menard.
It took longer than North expected, as the original plan was to use a semi-trailer to collect and transport the styrofoam just like North did in Randolph County.
“We were initially trying to find places where we could put a tractor-trailer or something, but there just isn’t any feasible site within the city limits to do something like that,” he said. declared Wagner.
As a result, the Department of Health uses one of its smaller trailers to collect styrofoam in its office. Once this trailer is nearly full – if not completely packed – North will transport it to Chester Correctional Center.
North said it is very important for people to understand that only white particle polystyrene foam will be accepted. He explained that this was the type used to protect and hold televisions, computer monitors, fragile materials and other similar goods in their boxes.
When this polystyrene foam is broken, static white “polka dots” stand out.
Peanuts, egg cartons, cups and bowls and soft foam packaging will not be accepted.
North is optimistic. Monroe County will not see too many non-recyclable materials drop.
“I know it’s been very successful in Sparta and we really haven’t had a lot of issues with people throwing in the wrong things,” North said, adding: “Education is key to all of this. you make people understand what they can recycle, you won’t get stuff (which is not recyclable).