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Beginning May 13, Calgarians can bring their foam packaging, also known as Styrofoam, to any City of Calgary landfill location for recycling as part of a six-month pilot project free of charge.

Many Calgarians have been asking for a foam packaging recycling program, like the ones offered by other nearby Alberta municipalities. The foam packaging pilot is an opportunity to further expand our diversion programs to keep recyclable materials out of the garbage, ensuring these materials get recycled and turned into something new.

The foam packaging collected at City landfills will be picked up by a private recycler, Styro-Go, and taken back to their facility, in Calgary for processing. Styro-Go uses a hot-melt densifier that reduces the foam packaging into bricks to allow for economical and easy transport of materials to be recycled. The recycled foam packaging is used again to manufacture various products including cabinetry, bike helmets, tiles, frames, and other plastic moldings.

How will the pilot work?

• Residential customers will be able to bring their foam packaging to any of the three staffed
City landfills.
• The pilot is free of charge unless other garbage or chargeable materials are in the load
then disposal charges will apply.
• Once at the landfill, customers will be directed to a designated area to drop off their foam
packaging for recycling.

Calgarians can bring clean foam with no food residue, tape, glue, or labels. Examples include

  • • Shipping foam packaging (often foam that protects new electronics);
    • Foam egg cartons;
  • • Foam meat trays with absorbent pads removed;
    • Foam take-out containers; and
    • White and coloured foam. No black polystyrene foam.

If Calgarians can’t take their foam packaging to the landfill, then it should go in the black cart as garbage. The pilot project is for residential customers only. Businesses who generate foam packaging as part of their operational waste can contact Styro-Go directly to inquire about recycling.

Why can’t foam packaging be recycled in Calgary’s Blue Cart program? It cannot be put in the blue cart because when the recycling is collected it gets compacted inside the collection truck to save space. Foam packaging breaks and crumbles easily during the collection process. 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 materials can be recycled properly.

Why can’t foam packaging be recycled at Calgary’s Community Recycling Depots? Based on the experience of other jurisdictions and the requirements from the contracted foam recycler, the foam packaging can only be received at a staffed facility where staff can monitor what is being dropped off and how full the receiving bags are. The Community Recycling Depots are “unstaffed” recycling drop-off locations, the City landfill locations are a better option.

Do other municipalities have foam packaging recycling programs? Yes, other municipalities have implemented foam packaging recycling programs. Edmonton, Cochrane, Okotoks, Airdrie, Strathcona County have all been collecting foam packaging for recycling for various lengths of time.

Which landfills will foam packaging/Styrofoam be accepted at? Calgarians can bring these materials to the designated areas at any of our three City landfill locations.



Sean Chu

Sean Chu arrived in Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 speaking not a word of English, and within 7 years he was a sworn officer with the Calgary Police Service. From that point on Sean worked with the Calgary Police Service as on Officer for 21 years in a number of roles until 2013.

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