Timbron International: Recycling polystyrene to Make Mouldings

180px-Styrofoam.jpgAs long as some plastic products are made from polystyrene, Timbron International will be making money. The Walnut Creek, CA based company, recycles polystyrene plastic and foam to make decorative mouldings. Polystyrene is made from sytrene, which is “a known human neurotoxin and a known animal carcinogen,” according to the organization Californians Against Waste (CAW). Polystrene is used to make countless plastic items such as CD jewel cases. Foamed polystyrene, created by adding a blowing agent to polystyrene, is also used in fast food boxes and cups.
Timbron’s mouldings are made mostly from post-consumer polystyrene waste (75%). The company boasts that it has recycled enough polystyrene waste since 2000 to fill the Empire State Building.

In California 377,579 tons of polystyrene are produced every year, “including 154,808 tons of food service packaging!,” according to CAW.
On the company’s website it lists its “environmental facts” that explain everything from what a green product is to the facts about its products:

Timbron International produces a green product. A green product is designed to reduce both the direct and indirect environmental consequence associated with its design, development, manufacturing, distributing, and installation.
Timbron premium interior mouldings are comprised of 90% recycled plastics; 75% post-consumer and 15% pre-consumer.
Post-consumer recycled material is derived from a product that has been used by the consumer for the duration of its useful life and is then recycled. It has a greater environmental value than pre-consumer recycled material.
Timbron can be recycled at the end of its useful life, thus creating a closed loop manufacturing system. A closed loop manufacturing system continuously converts discarded materials into new raw materials, reducing waste and conserving energy.
Timbron is durable and long-lasting, reducing the need for frequent replacement and use of additional materials.
Timbron is waterproof, mold & mildew resistant, and can be left its nice white color after installation. This improves indoor air quality and contributes to a healthy home and environment.
Timbron is termite and insect proof, eliminating the need for toxic pesticides.
Timbron emits zero volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). VOC’s react with sunlight to produce ground level ozone which contributes to respiratory ailments. We are proud to state that Timbron is CA 1350 tested and approved by CHPS, The Collaborative for High Performance Schools.

Controversy surrounds polystyrene recycling. Bryan Early of CAW said that he wants manufacturers to stop using polystyrene and use biodegradable packaging. He is concerned about the greenhouse emissions produced from transporting the polystyrene to Timbron’s plant in Stockton (in the northern San Joaquin Valley), and thinks that it has “negative scrap value.”
However, Timbron points out that the use of recycled polystyrene saves natural resources, namely wood, from being used. Timbron is “working with the California Integrated Waste Management Board to develop curbside and drop-off facilities” that will take polystyrene products. The products would otherwise go to landfills.
The city of Los Angeles began to accept some polystyrene products in its curbside trash bins last summer.
“It’s cheap,” said Zion Dunn, manager of Timbron’s Stockton plant. “No one wants it, but everyone has it. We’re just trying to take garbage and make something good out of it.”
As the company’s website puts it, Timbron’s products “are produced utilizing materials that would otherwise be detrimental to our environment if treated as waste and disposed of by conventional means.”
Timbron’s products have nationwide distribution, and are sold in over 1,700 Home Depot stores.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.