Sunshine Coast BC Weather Forcast
Issued Canada


Educational Outreach Program
Apr. 1, 2009 Edition

Expanded polystyrene is the foamy lightweight white packaging material used to protect many items we purchase.

Polystyrene is not a new product. It was first developed in 1839, and commercially manufactured in 1930. Ray McIntire of Dow Chemicals developed Styrofoam, (the trademarked brand name) a form of foamed polystyrene in 1954. Like some other trademarked brand names such as “Kleenex” and “Raid” it has entered our vocabulary to describe a product. Expanded Polystyrene a.k.a. Styrofoam.

Expanded polystyrene is lightweight, buoyant, easily shaped and moulded and has a low-thermal conductivity. It has proven to be a more uniform substitute for cardboard for protective packaging. In our global marketplace it has increased sanitation and hygiene in the packaged materials we consume. It has opened world trade allowing fruit from China or South America to be fresh and unblemished on our grocery shelves. It has allowed fragile goods to be transported thousands of miles and pass through rigorous handling. This packaging has brought us electronic equipment and medical supplies to every corner of the world. It has kept damaged goods out of the landfills, and it has kept treasured items safe. It has been has been an armour to insure perfection. We have been rapidly expanding our demand for products and services that use this protective armour.

So now we think of it as a problem. It takes over 900 years to decompose. According to the California Coastal Commission; it is a principal component of marine debris. This packaging material ends up as litter and pieces choke animals and clog their digestive systems. In 1999, 300,000 tons of expanded polystyrene was land filled in California at a cost of $30 million dollars. Throwing EPS away is the problem because it can be recycled.

EPS (expanded polystyrene) is 100% recyclable. Due to lack of suitable recycling facilities and the commitment to recycle this useful product not recycled. Recycling Expanded Polystyrene saves valuable landfill space. 300,000 tons of expanded polystyrene equates to 37.5 million cubic metres or enough to fill 15,000 Olympic sized swimming pools each year.Recycled expanded polystyrene becomes building materials (saving wood), insulation, and egg cartons. protective material in bike helmets, packaging to name a few of the many applications.

GIBSONS RECYCLING DEPOT offers a recycling program for EPS (expanded polystyrene) at the full service enhanced depot, 1018 Venture Way. Gibsons Recycling Depot is the first private non-government funded recycling depot to offer this recycling opportunity in BC.

  • EPS (expanded polystyrene) should be clean, dry and uncontaminated
  • Remove any foreign materials such as tape, stickers, labels and cardboard
  • Look for #6 recycling symbol
  • For easy handling large volumes may be bagged
  • A nominal fee for recycling will be charged

Educational Outreach
Gibsons Recycling Depot

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