New styrofoam recycling program: Heal the Ocean teams up with Marborg Industries
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Marborg Industries, Santa Barbara’s residential and commercial waste management provider, and Heal the Ocean, a local nonprofit that works to protect ocean waters from contamination, have partnered to offer styrofoam recycling to Santa Barbara County.
The program launched early August according to Sarah Stark, Marborg’s outreach environmental compliance representative. In the first few weeks , the program has seen predominantly commercial drop-offs; however, Stark wanted to emphasize that all are welcome to leave styrofoam at the designated locations. When the locations are overflowing with styrofoam and there is enough material to fill a truck, Marborg sends all of the styrofoam to a facility in Ontario. From there it is put into a densifier that melts it down and allows it to be turned into molds that can be reused.
Heal the Ocean brought forward this plan to Marborg Industries in an effort to divert styrofoam from landfills, explaining in an e-letter they sent out on August 29th that if styrofoam goes to landfills, small bits will make their way to the ocean and become plastic pollution.
In the e-letter, Heal the Ocean linked a document from Clean Water Action California that explains why it is important to keep styrofoam out of the ocean. Plastics like styrofoam break down in ocean environments and are often mistaken for food by marine species. According to the document, “Some researchers feel that the composition of conventional petroleum-based plastics as durable polymers means they will degrade to increasingly smaller sizes but never disappear.”
Clean Water Action California also noted in the document that “a study of beach debris at 43 sites along the Orange County coast found [styrofoam] was the second most abundant form of beach debris.”
Please note that Marborg is not accepting styrofoam in blue recycling containers. Styrofoam can be dropped off at either of Marborg’s recycling centers in downtown Santa Barbara and Goleta.