A recycling program in southeastern New Brunswick is making history as the first municipal facility in Canada to recycle Styrofoam.
"This is something we've been working on for over six months," said Bill Slater, the general manager of the Westmorland-Albert Solid Waste Corporation.
"Staff have been very diligent to get this thing up and going."
The waste corporation — which services Moncton — shipped out a load of Styrofoam for the first time on Wednesday, to be turned into crown molding.
The almost weightless Styrofoam items — including used take-out containers, egg cartons and cups — are pulverized into small bits and end up as a compact heavy mass.
The payback for the waste corporation's first shipment is about $3,000. It may not be a lot of cash, but officials say the real gain goes beyond the money.
"Styrofoam takes about a couple hundred years — at least — to break down in the landfill," said Jeff Porter, who works in the impact management branch of the Department of Environment.
"It's great for the environment to take it out of the landfill, it saves space in the landfill."
Slater said the container shipped on Wednesday equals approximately 36 tractor trailer-sized loads of Styrofoam that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
Laid out side by side, the 13-tonne shipment will save about a football field worth of landfill space.
The Westmoreland-Albert Solid Waste Corporation teamed up with a private company that bought the pulverizing machine and pays to ship the Styrofoam to South Korea, where it will be turned into crown molding.
The corporation provides one employee and the raw material — the Styrofoam.
Slater said he believes there is a future opportunity for New Brunswick to take over all aspects of the recycling operation, including creating the crown molding.
"I would like to; it would be the ultimate thing," said Slater.
"We're looking at other issues too that we should do all kinds of processing here."