Polystyrene foam should never be put in your recycling bin at home. Polystyrene can be dropped off at designated recycling points, but if you’re not able to find one in your area, it should be put in the garbage bin.
Polystyrene foam is also known as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and is used to make moulded packaging foam (often used to protect appliances), fruit and vegetable boxes, beanbag beans and packaging peanuts/pellets.
Businesses and workplaces with large quanities of polystyrene can find recycling solutions in their area at Business Recycling.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a lightweight, rigid cellular plastic that is used widely in packaging to protect items. Due to its shock absorbing characteristics, it is useful for storage and in the transport of fragile and expensive items such as electronic equipment, chemicals and wines.
While EPS is a type of plastic, 98% of the material is actually air. It is made from oil, which is a non-renewable resource (meaning there is a finite amount of it on our planet).
HOW TO RECYCLE POLYSTYRENE FOAM AT WORK
If your business or workplace has large quantities of polystyrene foam to dispose of, there are commercial recycling services available. Visit Business Recycling to find a suitable recycling option.
Expanded Polystyrene Australia (the national EPS Industry Group) has a number of collection facilities for EPS products across Australia. These facilities accept all types of EPS from both packaging and building/construction applications. Visit the Expanded Polystyrene Australia to find out where the collection facility is in your state.
Confusion with polystyrene
- Some polystyrene materials such as foam cups, trays or foam packaging are marked with this symbol.
- This symbol is part of the Plastic Identification Code.
- This code identifies the type of plastic the product is, not if it can be recycled.
- Polystyrene is also used to make solid plastic packaging such as meat trays and yogurt/dairy containers – check packaging for the Australasian Recycling Label to determine if it can be recycled at home.
WHY SHOULD I RECYCLE POLYSTYRENE FOAM?
EPS is a problematic material that takes hundreds of years to breakdown in landfill. Despite 98% of the plastic packaging being air, EPS takes up large amounts of space in landfills where it can easily be blown away and enter our natural environment.
Despite EPS being problematic in landfill, it is still better to put it in your garbage bin if you do not have a recycling collection point near you. Putting polystyrene in your recycling bin at home will only cause problems for recyclers and contaminate other materials in your recycling bin.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE POLYSTYRENE FOAM WHEN I REYCLE IT?
Polystyrene foam that is dropped off for recycling at specialised collection points will be melted down and turned into new products such as outdoor furniture, decking, picture frames and skirting boards.