Foam and Nothing But

At my house it collected near the recycling bin in the garage. Snowy white and squeaky it sat there as I wondered, “can I put it in the blue box?” or, “do I just throw it out…that doesn’t seem right…what do I do with it?

Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), or as it is commonly known by the brand name ‘Styrofoam’, is one of those items I was never sure about in terms of disposal. It is coded as ‘6’ in the little triangular arrow that denotes ‘recyclable’ so it can obviously be recycled somewhere by someone, but whom?

EPS packaging from a computer monitor

EPS packaging from a computer monitor-what do I do with it?

Polystyrene Everywhere

Billions of kilograms of polystyrene is processed every year into various products. In its ‘non-expanded’ form it becomes plastic disposable cutlery, CD/DVD cases and a myriad of other plastic items. When it is ‘expanded’ into EPS it becomes foam coffee cups, fast food containers and foam trays for meats, among other things. EPS is very slow to biodegrade and is often prevalent in outside trash in the form of those coffee cups and fast food containers. It is also one of the main materials found in the world’s oceans where it is toxic, particularly if ingested, to marine life as it blows in the wind and floats on the water surface.

But EPS is actually easily recycled and that’s where Foam Only comes in.

Recycle your Styrofoam

Foam Only is based in Coquitlam, and is the only place in Metro Vancouver that recycles your polystyrene foam and turns it into a commodity that can be ‘upcycled’ into other consumer products. Established in early 2012 by Mark Obedzinski, Noel Massey and Jack Helps, Foam Only aims to provide a cost effective solution to recycle expanded polystyrene foam. In order to make it cost effective, the group decided against a fleet of trucks and pick up services in favour of a network of drop-off centres for commercial clients and consumers.

Machines on-site at their location on Golden Avenue densify the expanded foam into a condensed material – 40 yards of expanded material can be made into a wheelbarrow full of condensed material. Collection of a large, bulky expanded foam product is not economically viable and curbside collection is prohibitive. However, once the foam is compressed it is very easily recycled into clothes hangers, park benches, toys, flower pots-virtually anything you can imagine that can be made from plastic.

Foam Only  location in Coquitlam

Foam Only location in Coquitlam

So now if you are lucky enough to be unpacking a flat-screen TV or other new electronic gadget, you can dispose of that foam packing material responsibly at any of the drop-off locations listed on the Foam Only website. I know that my home will soon be flooded with a wave of EPS packing material in the aftermath of the Christmas season as kid’s toys and packages from far-off relatives are revealed beneath the squeaky layers of moulded EPS and loose ‘packing peanuts’. It’s nice to know that I now have a place to take it that will recycle it.

Foam Only

107A 81 Golden Drive, Coquitlam
604.552.3626 |

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