Tigard company recycles that annoying polystyrene packing foam that clogs landfills

John Desmarteau of Agilyx Corporation. right, helped three people, including Joanne Lyford, left, unload cars full of foam packing material at the company's Tigard plant. (Stuart Tomlinson/KATU)

A Tigard company has come up with an effective way to recycle that bulky, polystyrene foam packing material that takes up a huge amount of space in your garbage can and also in landfills.

In about 10 minutes last week, John Desmarteau of Agilyx Corporation helped three people unload cars full of foam packing material at the company's Tigard plant located at 7904 S.W. Hunziker Street.

It was loaded into bins that had already been emptied by 10 a.m. that morning, and would likely fill many times over by day’s end.

“We take the polymers and break them down into pieces that then can be used to manufacture new products,” Desmarteau said. “We're creating a circular economy for this plastic rather than just a one-use item that then gets disposed of.”

The material is heated up, shredded and then turned back into the raw material to make new polystyrene, in both foam and rigid plastics, which includes everything from plastic cups, to plastic utensils. The word is gradually getting out to consumers.

Joanne Lyford brought large packing crates used to ship medical supplies each month to her husband. Several places that used to take the material don't anymore. Agilyx hopes to expand the number of drop-off points.

“This is the place for now,” Lyford said. “I’m telling everybody.”

“It's nice that people are bringing in this material here but, really, when you think about it it's better if it can be densified in one area so that there’s not so many cars bringing this material in,” Desmarteau said.

Agilyx is working with Metro, refiners and other private and public agencies to find more solutions to recycle mixed-waste plastics.

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