- The Niagara Region in Canada debuted a new polystyrene foam densifier — the first in Ontario — at its recycling facility, as reported by Waste Management World.
- The technology can compress polystyrene foam into stackable blocks. One truckload of this compressed foam is equivalent to 35-40 truckloads of regular material.
- Funding was provided by the Niagara Region, Waste Diversion Ontario's Continuous Improvement Fund and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.
Ontario has its own diversion rate goals like many parts of the U.S. and polystyrene foam is a small but challenging part of achieving them. According to the EPS Industry Alliance, 127 million pounds of expanded polystyrene were recycled in 2013. Though the most recent Environmental Protection Agency data shows that diversion rates still remain very low.
Some U.S. recyclers have also invested in densification technology, which can greatly reduce emissions and transportation costs, but the market is still tough. Polystyrene recycling operations in Massachusetts and Illinois closed up over the summer. Grants and drop-off centers funded by industry groups have helped, but collecting large quantities of material efficiently is still an obstacle.
At this point it's becoming more common for cities to ban the material than accept it in curbside bins. Further expansion of this densification technology could help change that, though opposition from local governments and environmental advocates will still be a factor.