Everett recycler finds new uses for old Styrofoam
According to Carlos Hart, a logistics specialist at Everett's Busy Beaver Recycling, Washington state has mandated covers for all recycling facilities in the future. It's a tall order for many existing open-air facilities.
But Busy Beaver has a head start on this pending rule. The facility that opened in February 2011 at 101 E. Marine View Drive on Everett's riverfront has more than a quarter — about 100,000 square feet — of its eight-acre site covered and in use. It is said to be largest covered recycling facility in Snohomish County.
Hart said Busy Beaver has chosen to concentrate on a handful of specific construction and business-related recyclables rather than common residential content.
This allows the company to expand at a comfortable pace and add employees and state-of-the-art, stream-specific equipment as they grow, without the worry of fickle bank credit policies or overextension, he said.
“Our plan is to bring something in, separate it, add value, then completely close the loop,” Hart said.
One of those specific material streams is extruded polystyrene foam, better known by the trademarked name of Styrofoam. People usually don't think of Styrofoam as being recyclable, but it can be used for many things once it has been processed.
At Busy Beaver, the foam is compressed into thermally condensed polystyrene ingots, which are then sent to manufacturers who grind them up and make them into new products such as picture frames, eyeglass frames and moldings.
In addition to being important from a “green” standpoint, many retailers appreciate Styrofoam recycling since it helps their bottom line.
Hart explained that Styrofoam may be lightweight, but it takes up a large amount of space in rented dumpsters. This means businesses must pay more for a larger dumpster to accommodate the bulk of Styrofoam material. By arranging for Styrofoam to be recycled, they can usually go to a smaller dumpster size and save money.
Several businesses and retailers in Snohomish County have partnered with Busy Beaver for Styrofoam recycling. These include a big-name box store, smaller retailers, the manufacturers of outboard motor engines and others.
The facility also has received foam from boat dock demolitions or old house insulation material.
Not all types of foam packing material are recyclable through Busy Beaver. Flexible foam packing, for example, is not remanufactured in the same way as Styrofoam.
“If it flexes, we can't take it. If it snaps, we can,” Hart said.
Styrofoam is just one material the company accepts. Their focus is construction and demolition debris, including wood, concrete, metal and roofing materials.
The loads come in commingled and are dumped at one of five loading docks at the covered facility. From there it is sorted by employees into the separate components. The company believes it is able to “rescue” more than 99 percent of the materials that they accept.
Best of all, Hart said, the covered facility is able to protect the environment. Materials are safely contained inside the building. Dust can be controlled and there is no chance for rainwater to run through the materials and leach chemicals into the ground, the groundwater and the Snohomish River.
“We like going fishing,” Hart said. “We want to be able to eat fish out of that river.”
By next spring, Busy Beaver Recycling plans to have more equipment in place and to accept more materials. It's an exciting time both for the company and for the industry as a whole, Hart said.
“The recycling industry is back where Microsoft was back in the early '90s,” Hart said. “It is literally changing every week.”
It's also becoming easier to recycle all the time. Hart encourages business owners and contractors to take a few extra steps to keep materials out of landfills. He urges them to make a call, ask some questions and see how the recycling industry can help them.
To find out about Busy Beaver Recycling's services, call 425-339-0117 or go to www. busybeaverrecycling.com.
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