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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Styrophome Recyling

Uploaded: Jan 2, 2011
My kids gave me as a Christmas present a new toaster oven! (OK, they also gave me a set of DVD's commemerating the awesome SF Giants 2010 baseball season, including a disk for every game of the World Series. Thanks Nathan and Adrienne.)

At the end of the day, I likely will use the new toaster oven, much needed, than I will watch all these Giants DVD's.

Packaging: the toaster oven had the typical packing materials inside, including a couple of styrophome (do I have the spelling right?) backers to keep the product intact. All well and good.

I went to the PA Baylands recycling center the other day, and guess what? Styroform, however you spell it, no longer is accepted. I inquired why to a worker there, and he stated that there is no market for recycled styrofoam. (And I still cannot get the spelling figured out.)

There is a larger point than my spelling limitations.

An item such as I received as a gift this season could have been packaged without materials than cannot be recycled. The "bumpers" could have easily been made of corrugated materials and protect the product just as effectively, with recyclable products.

This is the sort of issue that starts at the local level, and can grow to from there. Why do we need styro however you spell it in the packaging material?

Local Journalism.
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Posted by standards, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

Would be nice if industry came up with some packaging standards to reduce waste and increase recycling (or at least the ability to recycle). Recycling styrofoam is too expensive to be practical.

Fortunately, I didn't receive any styrofoam for Xmas. A couple of products with copious packaging at least used cardboard or plastic padding which should be recyclable. All manufacturers could switch to these materials if they wanted to.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

Paul, hopefully this time you chose a subject that won't get locked.

I do agree with you, materials that can't be spelt should not be used for packaging, particularly if they can't be recycled.

One suggestion I have heard worked, take the packaging back to the store you bought it from and ask them to deal with it. If everyone did this the stores themselves would get the message then pass it on to the manufacturers. Even if we buy online, returning the packaging to Amazon or someone might send the right message if all of us were to do it.

You could start the movement. Palo Alto could be leaders. You would be a green giant.

Posted by standards, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 9:46 am

Many manufacturers are based (or at least headquartered) here in Silicon Valley. Palo Alto resident Steve Jobs' products were some of the most popular this Xmas. Do any big name local companies use non-recyclable packaging? Or is it mostly generic imported products?

Posted by recycle, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

I like that suggestion to take the materials back to the store! That's new to me that you can't take recycle it anymore.

Just the other day I found a foot cream in a very big box and a tiny tube inside and put it right back on the shelf because it's deceptive packaging and wasteful.

Good point, and worthwhile to try to change this.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 10:51 am

Foam is not recyclable. Years ago, I visited a foam production company in Hayward and was AMAZED at the products they made for construction. Casinos, for one, owe a lot of their flamboyant architecture styling to styrofoam. Lightweight, easy to carve and surface, amazing, almost fantastical results.

And absolutely not recyclable. When asked, we were told the scraps are ground down and shipped off for bean bags.

Uh-huh. Quite the demand for bean bags, I suppose.

re: Apple - I don't think Apple has used foam for a decade at least.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Styrofoam is the perfect packing material. I imagine that damage claims are way down where Styrofoam is used. Styrofoam is properly disposed of in your garbage can. To deny the advantages of Styrofoam just because it is not recyclable is foolish.

Posted by Toss it in the garbage, a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I would just throw it in the garbage. Yes, we know that Palo Alto lead the world in being green and plastic bags, Styrofoam, paper bags, cars, any and all garbage are evil. Maybe the new PA mayor can force the city council to ban the sale of any products that have styrofoam packing within the borders of Palo Alto. After all we want to achieve zero waste soon.

Posted by Jim H., a resident of ,
on Jan 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I had the same problem last week. Went to take it to the recycling center and they told me to toss it in the garbage. What did PASCO do with it, since they used to have a bin for it at the recycling center???

Also (to announymous), Apple, does indeed use styrofoam. My 6 month old iMac was packed nice and securely in it when I took it out of the box. I needed to send it back and took it to Kinko's and they use some new fancy air based packaging to send it back to Apple.

Maybe all of the styrofoam will produce enough garbage so the city won't have to raise refuse rates due to lack of refuse...

Posted by Paul, a resident of ,
on Jan 4, 2011 at 11:26 am

Now here's an opportunity to invoke the spirit of enterprise everybody talks about, and find a use for the phome.

For example, I bet it would make a dandy soil amendment if ground to a suitable granularity, opening the local clay and perhaps storing water for dry seasons.

Be sure to copyright that name quick, Paul L. Today's misspelling might be tomorrow's trademark.

Posted by AMR, a resident of ,
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Is the fact that you can't spell Styrofoam (or commemorating or know the difference between then/than) supposed to be witty?

I'm confused as to why this blog is hosted on the Palo Alto Daily website. Do they want to host my home remodeling website too?

Posted by Green resident, a resident of ,
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I have read in several places that you can bring styrofoam to UPS stores and they will accept it for packing future boxes. Web Link

If your closest UPS store refuses, this site let's you search for other sites that will accept styrofoam. Apparently the closest in their database are Sunnyvale or San Mateo. Web Link

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