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Free foam recycling pilot launches in Calgary

For the next six months, Calgary will be collecting foam waste at its three landfills. (File) For the next six months, Calgary will be collecting foam waste at its three landfills. (File)
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Calgarians can now bring their Styrofoam waste to be recycled at any of the city's three landfills.

For the next six months, the City of Calgary's waste and recycling services team will be collecting the material, free of charge.

"Calgarians have been asking for a foam packaging recycling program, like the ones offered by other nearby municipalities for a while," said project manager Elias Tomaras in a news release.

"Calgarians are keen to keep recyclable materials out of the garbage, which is valuable in terms of extending our landfill space for future use."

To participate in the pilot, Calgarians simply need to bring their foam waste to the landfill and ensure it is free of food, tape, glue, labels and other residue.

Styrofoam is accepted free of charge but if there is any other waste material in the load, residents would be charged accordingly.

Examples of foam waste include shipping foam packaging, foam egg cartons, foam meat trays with absorbent pads removed and foam take out containers.

Only white or coloured foam will be accepted, the city says. All black polystyrene foam must be thrown out with regular garbage.

Officials say the recycling pilot program is an important part of Calgary's waste collection strategy because the material cannot be put into blue carts because it breaks and crumbles when it gets compacted inside trucks.

"The broken pieces cannot be separated from other recyclables and this mixture of materials is incompatible with the recycling process, meaning that neither the foam nor the other recyclable materials can be recycled properly," officials said.

The city says all the recycled foam can be melted down and used again to make new products such as cabinetry, bike helmets, tiles, frames and other plastic moldings.

More information about waste collection, including guidelines about what goes where, can be found on the city's website.

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