We've all used it at some time...Polystyrene, aka "Styrofoam". It has its benefits. Because it is about 95% air, it makes an excellent insulator - for coffee cups, beer coolers, life vests and building insulation. It is also a cheap material for take-out containers, meat trays and shipping peanuts. However, it is one of the most difficult materials to dispose of, since it is non-biodegradable. It is too light for easy curbside collection, too bulky and expensive for garbage hauling, and in many cases, not re-useable. When it crumbles it can enter and pollute our water supply, and it endangers wildlife. Glen Ellyn's refuse and recycling service does NOT accept this material. It is marked with a #6 in a triangle arrow symbol - in our blue recycling bins.
What to do? Residents can make smart choices in our purchases of fast foods, meat products and packing materials. For the polystyrene that we sometimes end up with anyway, there are alternatives.
1. Collect some of the most prevalent household polystyrene products - cups and food containers - and take them to one of the few recycling locations in our area: Dart Container, 310 Evergreen Drive, North Aurora. Rinse cups and containers to rid them of food. Place foam in a clear plastic bag. Do not include straws or lids, foam insulation or packing peanuts.
2. Reuse packing peanuts in another package you need to ship. You can also donate them to UPS or other shipping stores, who will gladly reuse the material.
3. Urge food providers to switch to alternative materials such as containers that are derived from biodegradable materials such as corn, sugar, paper and bamboo. This would include restaurants as well as supermarkets.
4. Decide to make the switch to patronize businesses that currently use alternative materials - paper cups, a simple plastic bag, butcher paper, a paper tray.
Members of the Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission are working to propose a pilot program that would manage, transport, and recycle the contents of a centrally-located polystyrene dispoal bin to support our Village's recycling efforts. They also sponsor the annual Recycling Extravaganza, held in April. This ievent inclues participation from Dart Containers, which will take your #6 styrene materials free of charge and dispose or recycle them responsibly.