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A bill would ban Styrofoam take-out containers. Where does foam packaging end up now?

In Denver, Styrofoam is actually recyclable, but not with food residue on it.

DENVER — Lawmakers in the Senate are expected to debate a bill that would ban takeout Styrofoam containers.

While the Alpine Waste and Recycling Plant in Denver isn't taking a side on the bill, they do want to increase awareness about re-use of the material.

"This can be used for something else," said Bren Hildebrand, the Vice President of Recycling at Alpine Waste and Recycling. 

The material commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam is actually called expanded polystyrene. 

Alpine Waste & Recycling has a machine that crushes the foam into 60-pound blocks that can then be exported to other countries and sold for pennies on the pound. 

"So there’s not a whole lot of value there but when you get a lot of it, it adds up over time," Hilderbrand said. 

The issue with recycling the Styrofoam that comes from takeout containers arises when people keep their leftover food on them. 

“The cleanliness of that particular Styrofoam is a really big deal for us to recover it," he said. “What I tell people is don’t use a ton of natural resources like water to get it perfect. But we can’t have, you know, noodles from a Chinese takeout stickin’ to the sides." 

While the plant is neutral on Senate Bill 243, Hildebrand said banning the material couldn't hurt. 

“It probably would decrease it and we’re fine with that," he said. "We recognize that probably more people don’t recycle it than do, so it’s better for the environment to get that material out of the system." 

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