ROXBURY, NJ – That massive TV you got for Christmas is a delicate thing and that’s why it came packed in a thick shell of expanded polystyrene (EPS) surrounded by cardboard.

By now, the TV is probably set up and its huge cardboard box will go out to the curb for Blue Diamond Disposal. But what about the EPS, otherwise known as Styrofoam?

Although it probably has a symbol indicating it’s recyclable – one that says “O6 PS” – Styrofoam in Roxbury has nowhere to go but into the garbage. Unlike paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and some other plastics, EPS is not recycled here.

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“You’ve just got to break it up, so it fits into a trash bag or barrel,” said Roxbury Department of Public Works Director Rick Blood.

In not accepting Styrofoam as a recyclable material, Roxbury is far from alone. Only one other town, Middletown in Monmouth County, accepts EPS at its recycling center.

“The municipalities in New Jersey take their leads from the counties,” Blood said. Morris County does not include EPS among its list of materials accepted for recycling.

Road Trip?

There is a choice for those who really hate the idea of throwing away material that does not decompose quickly and can take up as much as 30 percent of space in a landfill. It will require a 30-mile drive to Springfield, the home of the Foam Pack Industries, the only EPS recycler in the state.

Is it more environmentally friendly to make a 60-mile round trip or to just dismember that TV’s protective shell and put it out with the trash?

To the Earth conscious, stuffing big chunks of Styrofoam into big plastic garbage bags headed for a Pennsylvania dump might seem sinful. But, as Blood noted, at least it's not a weekly task.

"It's one of those seasonal types of things," he said. "And there's plenty of it."

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