PlanetCon 2018 invites community to bring polystyrene, plastic bags, string lights to recycle.

COURTESY PHOTO - Polystyrene foam, commonly called styrofoam, can be difficult to recycle. A company in Tigard, Agilyx, turns the blocks into styrene oil, used to produce new products.More about PlanetCon 2018

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    Help is on the way for properly disposing of the post-holiday pile of white plastic foam packaging blocks. You know the ones — they can be spotted all along residential streets hanging out of overstuffed garbage cans.

    It's PlanetCon 2018: a free post-holiday event where you can recycle polystyrene, stretchy plastic bags and strings of Christmas lights that no longer work.

    Hosted by Westside Master Recyclers, the recycling and swap event takes place Saturday, Jan. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lincoln Street Elementary School, 801 N.E. Lincoln St. in Hillsboro.

    "We wanted something catchy," says Cecelia Warner, one of the organizers of the superhero-movie-sounding event.

    In Warner's opinion, those who take the time and care to recycle their polystyrene packaging after the holidays — or any time of year — are superheroes.

    Westside Master Recyclers started as a Facebook group for graduates of the Master Recyclers program and to bring together those interested in recycling and other sustainable practices. This is their first coordinated event.

    A Forest Grove resident, Warner focuses her efforts on educating the public on recycling polystyrene, commonly referred to as "Styrofoam," which is actually a brand name. The white blocks are commonly used for packaging large televisions and other electronics. The problem is, Warner says, too many of the bulky blocks end up in the landfill when they can be recycled for new uses.

    The material can't go into curbside recycling bins. It's gotten more difficult recently to recycle polystyrene, partly because Far West Recycling, a common recycling destination for many in western Washington County, stopped accepting polystyrene last September, due to changes in market conditions.

    The polystyrene collected at the PlanetCon event will be taken to Tigard-based Agilyx, which processes it into styrene oil, ready for refining into new pharmaceutical, agricultural, safety, construction, food packaging, durable goods, composites, insulation and shipping industry products.

    Polystyrene (household amounts) can also be dropped off for free at the company's 24-hour dropbox, 7904 S.W. Hunziker Road. For more information, visit

    In addition to recyling polystyrene at PlanetCon, visitors can also bring stretchy plastic bags to recycle. Can you easily poke your finger through the bag? Bring it to recycle.

    Old strings of Christmas lights can be recycled, as well (the cords contain metals — the bulbs are not recyclable).

    More than a recycling event, PlanetCon will host several groups with information tables and a holiday decor swap.

    Learn about:

    Local Repair fairs;

    Shake and Fold — a technique to reduce paper towel use;

    The Eat Smart, Waste Less challenge;

    The Bring Your Own Cup campaign; and

    How to compost with worm bins (vermiculture).

    The Nature Conservancy, Recycle Advocates and 350PDX will have information tables at the event.

    In addition, there's an opportunity to help out neighbors by donating clean, used or new warm winter coats, mittens and scarves in good condition (working zippers, etc.), and new warm socks. Donations will go to the Family Promise of Beaverton assistance program.

    Kathy Fuller
    email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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