By Marilyn Lauderdale, for the Kent Reporter
A little over 10 years ago, I took a risk to help the environment and provide a much-needed service to the community by opening up a recycling center for polystyrene foam products here in Kent.
Styro Recycle LLC provides a place for the public and businesses to dispose of their used foam products at no charge. We also offer a convenient and inexpensive pickup service for businesses that use these products, not only helping the environment but saving these businesses thousands of dollars in avoided disposal fees.
Once the foam is collected from businesses, organizations and residents it is ground up, compacted and then manufactured into new plastic products. Since we opened our doors, we’ve prevented more than 2,500 tons of foam packaging from being disposed of in landfills.
Not only are we helping the environment, we’ve also provided employment opportunities for many people in our community that were struggling to find work and, in some cases, even a place live. Helping the environment and helping my neighbors get back on their feet is something that motivates me every day.
It is unfortunate though that some well-intentioned legislators in Olympia are pushing a bill that could jeopardize the future of my company. SB 6213 and HB 2656 would ban the use of many types of plastic packaging. I agree that we need to be identifying programs and solutions to reduce the amount of material we generate and dispose of in our landfills, but we need to do it smartly and in a manner that doesn’t hurt local businesses.
It is one of the reasons I attended the first meeting earlier this year of the Department of Ecology’s newly created Recycling Center Advisory Board, a group of people like me that are interested in helping the state do right for the environment. I saw recyclers, local government representatives, environmentalists, businesses, waste haulers, and just regular people spend the day brainstorming various ideas to improve the state’s recycling system.
I know the supporters of these bills are trying to help the environment, but we can accomplish these objectives without putting local jobs at risk. Working together is the way we are going to find solutions that benefit the environment, help companies like mine thrive and create job opportunities for our most vulnerable neighbors. Passage of these two bills jeopardizes all of this.
I hope our elected representatives in Olympia are listening.
Marilyn Lauderdale owns Styro Recycle LLC.