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Article posted: 11/17/2012 8:00 AM

Curbside foam recycling could become byproduct of Highland Park effort

By Bob Susnjara

While foam recycling at a drop-off site in Highland Park has been deemed a success, the ultimate goal is for such a program to be accomplished with curbside collection, says the head of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County.

Highland Park officials announced Friday that 4,417 pounds of foam was collected for recycling in one year at the city's firearms training center on Half Day Road. The effort was sponsored by the solid waste agency and two businesses involved in polystyrene foam food packaging, Dart Container Corp. and Pactiv LLC.

In 2010, Highland Park was considering a ban on restaurant use of the foam containers that are popular for leftovers and carryout meals. That idea prompted Dart to ask the city to not take any action so the pilot foam recycling program could be launched, officials said.

Solid waste agency Executive Director Walter Willis said while residents in communities near Highland Park -- such as Lincolnshire, Deerfield and Lake Forest -- are encouraged to use the foam drop-off site, the ultimate goal is to have curbside pickup of the material with other recyclables already collected. Willis said efforts are being made in that direction while companies try to determine the market for recycled foam packaging.

"We're hopeful, but we also have to be sensitive to the recycling facilities themselves and the lack of space," he said.

Under the program, foam with a No. 6 symbol has been accepted at the firearms training center since 2011 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Visitors are asked to bring clean and rinsed food containers and drinking cups placed in clear plastic bags.

Highland Park city council member Steven Mandel credited residents for choosing the recycling program and keeping more than four semitrailers of foam out of landfills.

"While foam was not the only product that needed to be recycled in Highland Park, this program has definitely ushered in a new way on how we approach our sustainable future in Highland Park," Mandel said.

Packaging "peanuts" and foam building insulation are not accepted at the recycling site. Straws, lids, plastic wrap or trash may not be included with the foam containers and cups.

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