How Recycling Polystyrene Foam Benefits Your Business & The Environment

Expanded Polystyrene, or EPS, is something we all know and have used. It is a cost-effective, lightweight plastic material that is easy to produce and incredibly versatile. EPS can be used in products including food service cups, plates, and containers; it can also be used for packaging for electronics, in the home, and in industrial building materials.

The Benefits Of Polystyrene Foam

Many of our clients use polystyrene foam in construction projects, because it is a very versatile product. It’s a very effective insulator that does not deteriorate, even after many years of use. Mice and rats will not eat polystyrene sheets, making them practically critter-proof. They can easily be cut or profiled into whatever shape is needed, including blocks for void formwork, insulation sheets for cavity walls, and pipe insulation for commercial and industrial applications. EPS is even strong enough to be used as fill material in road construction projects. It is so buoyant it can also be used to make floating pontoons for construction jetties and marine equipment.

The Drawbacks Of Polystyrene Foam

There are drawbacks, however, to the manufacture and use of EPS products. For example, items made for food service are often single-use and are quickly discarded. Polystyrene sheets and blocks made for construction are easy to cut, but waste materials can cause problems for the environment if not disposed of properly. Because EPS is made of at least 95% air, waste materials can easily blow out of trash bins and landfill piles, posing a threat to the marine environment and other wildlife. Some cities have even attempted to ban the use of EPS packaging for fast food containers altogether.

Preventing These Environmental Issues

The answer is simple: Recycle.

From 2006-2007, as much as 33,000 tonnes of expanded polystyrene was produced in Australia. Due to the growing popularity of the material and its potentially negative environmental impacts, many regions and towns have implemented EPS recycling programs. The process is simple. It starts when EPS waste is gathered and compacted for shipping and storage from your local recycling centre.

Once it reaches a processing facility, it is fed into a granulation machine and ground into pellets that are once again compressed and then loaded onto pallets. Once these pallets reach their final destination, they are melted and mixed with other plastic materials to make products such as faux wood mouldings, picture frames, pots for plants, CD cases, and more! So, not only are you helping the environment, but you are helping the economic growth of the recycled plastics industry, too.

How To Recycle Polystyrene Foam

On an industrial level, more and more companies are dedicating time and effort to being environmentally friendly. For example, Foam Technologies recycles all EPS scraps and cut offs that come from the manufacturing process. In addition, materials from Foam Technologies contain no ozone depleting hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) or hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) blowing agents.

You And Your Business Can Make A Difference

As a consumer, the next time you use a foam cup or open a box that contains foam packaging, you can make a difference by recycling. You can also make a difference by buying products that are made from recycled EPS. To find out where you can recycle EPS products, please visit the Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) website. If you would like to learn more about polystyrene, its many uses, as well as which products are created from recycled polystyrene, contact Foam Technologies for more information.