In our last edition, I shared with you an investigation I had begun due to a polystyrene struggle a friend of mine had run into. It was great to chat with so many of our readers at our Vegas event who had read my editorial and wanted to know if I had any progress into the issue. At that point, I wasnít even close to a solution. For various reasons: 1. prepping for the Vegas event had me quite busy and 2. at that point I hadnít heard back from the distributor about the issue. However, since then, I did get a response from their EVP of Operations & Retails on LinkedIn. He gave me the instructions that customer service gave me as well, that the material is recyclable, and to visit an EPS recycling website to find a drop off location. I explained that there was not a location nearby, and then he said he would get me in contact with someone else about the issue, and Iím still waiting to hear back.
However, I did have a good chat with one of our RLA Member Logistics providers at the event who shared with me some additional information. 1. There are groups who recycle the polystyrene, but they merely take the material and melt into a big clump, and then thereís nothing to do with it. And 2. due to the coolers transporting food, there are FDA regulations against reusing the cooler for future use - where it would have to be sterilized to some degree - which then adds on an additional cost. So thatís something further I need to look into. But if there are any solutions providers who have other suggestions or a solution, please contact me! I did find a few great examples of how some companies are finding other ways to recycle this material. Hereís one who is recycling it, and creating picture frames from the recycled material: http://www.intcorecy cling.com/How-to-recycle-eps.h tml
Of course, when it comes down to it, itís the cost that is making this issue a difficult one to find an answer to. Either the Food Provider has to pay for the coolers to be shipped back to them, and then sterilized, while also creating a whole new process for their cooler usage, OR they need to find a different material cooler, that is easier to recycle or reuse (but probably more expensive). OR itís all left up to the customer. The webpage they referred me to DOES share ideas on how to reuse them or recycle them - but one of those options is that if you donít have a local recycle dropoff, to break up the pieces and put into a USPS box and pay to ship it back - then putting all the responsibility and cost to the customer to make sure it doesnít end up in a landfill. Not sure how likely that is.
So, stay tuned - Iím in the middle of finding some other possible local solutions - and possibly additional solutions working with their Logistics provider.
RL Magazine Editor