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October 2007
Bulk Styrofoam is reduced through heat extrusion to a 50-pound ingot pictured in the bottom right. The recycled byproducts are often made into consumer household plastic items such as picture frames shown in the foreground.

Furniture sellers divert over 15 million pounds of waste from Northeast landfills

Raymour & Flanigan Furniture’s owners, Neil, Steve and Michael Goldberg recently initiated efforts to recycle and save Northeast landfills from handling over 15.2 million pounds of Styrofoam, cardboard and plastic waste produced in one year.

Some of the recycled byproducts are made into consumer household plastic items such as picture frames, egg cartons, lunch trays, video and audio cassette casings as well as bathroom fixtures including countertops, sinks and tub/shower surrounds.

“Furniture ships from our manufacturers in cardboard, plastic and Styrofoam packaging,” explains Michael Goldberg, executive vice president. “Considering we sell on average 8,000 pieces of furniture each day, we generate a lot of recyclable material,” he states.

Raymour & Flanigan owners decided to renovate a 41,000 square foot recycling center on their main campus to handle the material. What used to be sent to landfills is now sent to the recycling center in Liverpool, New York for handling and processing. The recycled materials are used by other manufacturers to create new consumer products. Starting with a reduction process known as heat extrusion, technicians at Raymour & Flanigan take clean bulk Styrofoam, then send it through a special processing unit which reduces it to 10% of its original size to make an end product called an “ingot” weighing approximately 50 pounds. Ingots are shipped to manufacturers instead of area landfills.

Since launching in 2002, Raymour & Flanigan have processed millions of pounds of packaging materials. In 2007 alone, Raymour & Flanigan is on track to recycle over 700 thousand pounds of Styrofoam, 13.2 million pounds of cardboard and 1.3 million pounds of plastic.

According to senior vice president of distribution Jeff Lannier, “We have three Styrofoam processing units running six days per week. Our technicians can produce approximately 100 ingots per day, equivalent to 7 full trailers of Styrofoam that would otherwise go into a landfill. When we produce a 40,000 pound load, the material is bagged and shipped to a manufacturer.”

A typical trailer load of unprocessed Styrofoam holds 700 pounds which results in 14 ingots. The company anticipates processing approximately 700,000 pounds of Styrofoam this year, approximately 1,000 trailer loads.