Green Tip: Styrofoam Recycling

styrofoam oceans recycling brighten solar     Image: NYNJ Baykeeper

What is the issue with Styrofoam?

Styrofoam, or polystyrene, is an especially harmful material because of its inability to be recycled in traditional recycling facilities. This means that almost all styrofoam ends up in landfills, over-exacerbating our issue of waste. In addition, styrofoam often ends up in our oceans and waterways due to its lightweight nature which allows it to easily escape landfills.

Styrofoam is an environmental problem – it takes up too much space in our landfills, ends up in our oceans where marine animals mistake it for food, and it creates hazardous waste during the manufacturing process. The best solution would be to completely stop manufacturing single-use polystyrene materials, but it might take us a while to get to that point. In the meantime, we need to come up with temporary solutions to our styrofoam problem.

On an individual scale, we can reduce the amount of styrofoam we use by making responsible purchasing choices and refusing single-use products. This will contribute by creating less styrofoam waste! But what can we do with the styrofoam waste we do have? In Santa Barbara, a local non-profit has come up with a creative solution.

Styrofoam Recycling Pilot Program

Thanks to local non-profit, Heal the Ocean, and Marborg Industries, we are now able to recycle our styrofoam in Santa Barbara!

Note from Heal the Ocean: “In the MarBorg/HTO program, Styrofoam is ‘densified’ into viscous material that is reformed into usable products – mirror & picture frames, even into new packing materials. This is a pilot program. Heal the Ocean & MarBorg hope the public will help make it successful by using the free drop-off locations, and by only bringing in CLEAN Styrofoam. Any size and shape is OK!”

Bring ALL Styrofoam to the following MarBorg locations for FREE drop-off:
• Goleta – 20 David Love Place (Take 101/South Fairview exit)
• Downtown SB – 132 Nopalitos Way (Lower Milpas area, near Post Office)

It can be ANY form of Styrofoam, all the stuff electronics are shipped in, construction material, etc. even meat trays (but the Styrofoam must be clean—no tape or aluminum wrapping, concrete, food, etc.)

NOT ACCEPTED: Packing “peanuts” and the softer Polyurethane foam materials used in memory foam, packing cloth sheets, etc. These gum up the machinery used to recycle the styrofoam. Please take these materials to various mail services that reuse them.

☀ If you are not in the Santa Barbara area, we encourage you to research your local waste management organizations to see if there are any similar programs available to you. If there are not, you can always reach out to nearby non-profits to see if they would be interested in starting up a pilot program! 

Shout out to Heal the Ocean and Marborg Industries for implementing this phenomenal pilot program! This is the kind of community action that has the power to create a more sustainable future.

Our Planet Thanks You,