Lyon Co. planning to recycle Styrofoam

MARSHALL — Lyon County will soon be able to recycle Styrofoam.

Roger Schroeder, the Lyon County Public Works department administrator, asked the county board of commissioners Tuesday morning for the go-ahead to seek quotes for the purchase of a polystyrene densifier.

Public Works asked for and received an environmental assistance grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to recycle Styrofoam and funds are now available to purchase a machine.

Styrofoam pieces are dropped into the machine like a wood chipper, which then processes it through heat and extrudes it into a foam-like substance.

Schroeder has to go out and get quotes to buy the best one that suits their needs.

“We’ve done research into the machines to determine what options are available,” Schroeder said.

The Public Works department has been sending out Styrofoam.

“We’ve been sending that material in semi loads to Hutchinson for densifying and get paid a modest amount for that,” Schroeder said.

With the new machine, “we’ll work with businesses in the region that use Styrofoam which gets condensed down into blocks. We can sell that to a couple of different companies. For example we met with a company, it’s a Chinese company, that purchases the Styrofoam, pelletizes it, melts it and turns it into picture frames to sell to Home Depot or Lowe’s and places like that,” he said. “There’s a smaller domestic market that purchases polystyrene so there are a couple of options to make a modest amount of money.”

The machine will occupy the former ice rink at the Lyon County fairgrounds.

“We have identified a spot in the arena, it has a relatively small footprint,” he said.

Clients from Advance Opportunities will operate the machine. They already recycle old mattresses and car seats.

The machine will keep Styrofoam out of the landfill. Currently the Styrofoam floats around the landfill and has to be picked up.

“After the snow has melted it still looks like there’s snow on the ground,” Schroeder said.

“With Styrofoam cups and things like that, will you have another container?” said Commissioner Gary Crowley.

“We don’t want people to put it into their recycling container and put it out on the curb and we don’t want people to put it in the sheds,” said Schroeder. “We don’t want that contamination to get into the curbside recycling system.”

The Styrofoam will come from businesses and industry for now, not from Lyon County resident recycling bins.

“But if you buy a refrigerator and call me up (wanting to get rid of the packing materials), I’m not going to tell you no,” he said.

The public will have to bring it to the fairgrounds, “you can’t just put it in your cart,” he said.

“The grant project we have a well-thought out plan for phasing this in,” Schroeder said, “we will try to reach out to as many businesses in the area and slowly people will be able to bring in their packing peanuts or Amazon Styrofoam.”

The board approved Schroeder’s request to seek quotes for a polystyrene densifier.

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