GREENSBORO — For the past dozen years, members of First Presbyterian Church have quietly collected plastic foam from the community and church members.
Now they’re making that collection easier with a plastic foam recycling trailer added to the church’s recycling center. The trailer is on the upper parking deck at the church on Fisher Avenue that is between North Greene and North Elm streets. It is open to the community and can hold up to 200 pounds of foam, which is then taken to another site to be condensed for recycling.
Before the trailer, church members would take the collected plastic foam (the common brand name is Styrofoam) down to Randleman to a plant that turned it into cups. The Earth Care team at the church wanted to expand the effort.
“We want this to be ongoing and want people to know that this program is doing something good to make the world a better place,” said Nancy Abrams, director of the church’s Earth Care team.
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Tori Carle, waste reduction supervisor for the city, connected with the church when looking for spots where people could drop off glass to recycle. The church now offers glass recycling for city residents at its recycling center. She suggested the church team collaborate with Environmental Stewardship Greensboro on plastic foam recycling.
The Green Team at First Presbyterian is part of Environmental Stewardship Greensboro, which partnered with Tiny House Greensboro and Greensboro Beautiful to create Triad Foam Recycling, which began in November 2020 and raised enough money to buy a foam densifier.
At first, the church was still collecting foam and taking it to Triad Foam Recycling’s site at Tiny House’s warehouse on West Gate City Boulevard. After church members collected huge amounts of plastic foam, the committee decided to upgrade to a trailer on site to store the foam before it is driven to the recycling site. Scott Jones, executive director of Tiny House, found and customized the used trailer to fit the needs of collecting foam. The total cost after renovations was between $5,000-$6,000.
Church members John and Janice Sullivan gave a donation to help buy the trailer in memory of their son Jay.
As the project continues to grow, Abrams has noticed that people in the community have become more aware of how they dispose of plastic foam. They have begun taking it to the trailer instead of dumping it in a landfill.
“I encourage people to spread the word about taking care of the environment,” she said.
And thanks to the partnership with Tiny House, there are now job opportunities for people to work the densifier and empty the trailer. Triad Foam Recycling has sold thousands of pounds of the compacted plastic foam. The money is used to hire people, buy fuel, and pay for other things that keep the program going.
Triad Foam Recycling has obtained another trailer and is looking to expand its reach.
To find out more about the program visit www.recyclingfoam.com.