Styrofoam Recycling Begins At ReUse Center


Styrofoam Recycling

Begins At ReUse Center

Bill Hardy, the Otsego ReUse Center’s Manager, puts polystyrene blocks in the Center’s new foam recycling machine’s hopper. The hopper will grind up the polystyrene, send it through a rectangular chute. and eject it in dense two-inch blocks at a time – 30 pounds of polystyrene makes a single one-pound block!

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Martha Clarvoe

ONEONTA – Martha is here, and she’s going to make Otsego County cleaner.

Named for “avid recycler” Martha Clarvoe, an active OCCA committee member and former president,  Martha – the machine – is the new polystyrene recycler, just installed at ARC Otsego’s ReUse Center.

“It takes 30 pounds of Styrofoam and condenses that into a four-foot cube,” Bill Hardy, the ReUse Center’s Manager, said.  “That means, all that Styrofoam will not be in landfills.”

The foam recycling machine crushes non-biodegradable polystyrene – commonly known as Styrofoam – and then repacks it into dense blocks, which can then be used to make picture frames, architectural molding, cement mixtures, and more.

The county purchased the machine with a $50,000 grant it received from the Foam Recycling Coalition, formed by the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) in 2014 “to support increased recycling of foodservice packaging” made out of Styrofoam.   The county and ARC Otsego worked together to install the machine at the ReUse Center where Hardy would oversee its operation.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said OC Planner Karen Sullivan, who spearheaded the foam recycling project.  “We get tons of Styrofoam out of our waste stream.  The ARC can hire employees to stack and store the recycled blocks, which is good because the county doesn’t have money to hire people, which means taxpayers don’t foot the bill.”

“And businesses can use the reused materials and save money,” she added.

Hardy said the polystyrene recycling project had created five jobs at the Center, with two or three of them part-time.  The ARC finds jobs for individuals with disabilities.

And given that Martha has already processed 300 cubic yards of polystyrene, there will be plenty of work to do.

Plus, people can bring in almost any type of polystyene to be recycled.

“We can’t accept packing peanuts and we can’t do colored foam,” Hardy said.  “And we can accept Styrofoam food packaging, like coffee cups, but it needs to be washed.  All foam needs to be white and pristine, with all tape or other things removed.”

“The biggest, wonderful thing is looking at the volume of Styrofoam that would have gone into landfills and been there for an eternity,” said Hardy.  “Now we can have a much cleaner environment.”

For more information, contact Bill Hardy at the Otsego ReUse Center, 607-353-7831.

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