Is Polystyrene Recyclable? The Truth About This Controversial Material

These days, green initiatives have become an essential component of any business. And, if you are using or processing potentially hazardous materials, such as polystyrene, you have a responsibility to ensure that they are disposed of correctly.

So, is polystyrene recyclable? Let us find out in this article. We will also discuss other important information about this controversial material and give you some tips on how to establish effective waste disposal and recycling programme for your business. So, read on!

What Is Polystyrene

First, it is important to have a thorough understanding of what polystyrene is. This is a type of plastic that is commonly used in packaging and insulation. It is made from petroleum-based products and is not biodegradable.

Polystyrene Uses and Benefits

Polystyrene is used in various industries, including the food and beverage industry, for its thermal insulation properties. It is also used in construction and is often found in products, such as Styrofoam and expanded polystyrene foam.

This material has a number of benefits, including its lightweight, low cost, and versatility. However, it also has some drawbacks that make it controversial.

For example, because polystyrene is not biodegradable, it can take centuries to break down. Additionally, it is difficult to recycle due to its porous structure.

However, if it is an essential material for your business, you will be glad to know that there are some solutions to recycling polystyrene that we will discuss later on.

Is Polystyrene Recyclable?

The answer is both “yes” and “no”. Polystyrene can be recycled, but it is not always economically viable to do so. And, if not recycled properly, polystyrene can be a significant environmental pollutant.

Also, it depends on the type of polystyrene that you are using or processing in your business. Here are its two types.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS)

This is the white, foamy material that is often used in packaging and insulation. EPS is 100% recyclable.

EPS is recycled by breaking it down into small pellets. These pellets can then be used to make new products, such as picture frames, egg cartons, and packing peanuts.

Extruded polystyrene (XPS)

This is the harder, rigid material that is often used in construction. XPS is not recyclable.

The main reason why XPS is not recyclable is that it contains a flame retardant called halogenated hydrocarbon. This flame retardant makes the recycling process very expensive and complicated. As a result, most recycling facilities will not accept XPS materials.

So, if you are using EPS in your business, you can recycle it. But, if you are using XPS, it cannot be recycled. However, both types of polystyrene can be reused or incinerated for energy recovery.

The Dangers of Improper Disposal of Waste Polystyrene Products

The improper disposal of polystyrene products is a serious environmental concern. If not disposed of correctly, polystyrene can end up in landfills where it will take hundreds of years to break down. And, when it does break down, it releases harmful chemicals into the environment.

Another danger of improper disposal of polystyrene is that it can end up in natural habitats, such as forests and waterways. There, it can harm animals who mistake it for food.

Moreover, if polystyrene is incinerated, it releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. So, it is important to know how to dispose of polystyrene or reuse it, instead of disposing of them in a landfill or incinerating them.

Polystyrene: Disposal and Recycling Tips

Now that we have pretty much answered the question, “Is polystyrene recyclable?”, let us give you some tips on how to use, dispose of, and recycle polystyrene in your business.

  • Make sure that you are using EPS instead of XPS. Again, EPS is 100% recyclable, while XPS is not.
  • If possible, reuse EPS packaging material instead of throwing it away. For example, you can use it to pack other products or store items.
  • If you have to dispose of EPS, make sure that you do so using the right recycling bins. Do not put it in the general rubbish bin.
  • You can also contact your local council to find out if they offer a pick-up service for EPS waste.

Apart from those listed above, it is very important to educate your employees and customers about the importance of recycling EPS. Otherwise, your recycling programme will not be effective.

Creating an Efficient Waste Disposal Programme for Your Business

Proper waste disposal is crucial, especially when you are dealing with materials that are not recyclable, such as XPS. Here are some steps that you can take to create an efficient waste disposal system in your business.

1. Use Designated Recycling Bins for Your Waste

You can start by implementing a segregation system in your business. This means that you will need to have designated recycling bins for different types of waste.

Apart from having general waste bins, you should also have specific bins for polystyrene disposal. This will make it easier for your employees to segregate their waste properly.

You can also put up signs and labels on the bins to remind your employees which materials should go into which bin. Of course, you should also position your bins in strategic locations so that they are easily accessible to your employees.

2. Make Sure Your People Are Aware of the Waste Disposal System You Have

It is not enough to just have a waste segregation system in place. You also need to make sure that your employees are aware of it and know how to use it properly.

The best way to do this is to conduct a meeting about it. You can also put up posters or create an e-learning module that will educate your employees about your waste segregation system.

Moreover, you should also conduct regular audits to check if your employees are following the waste disposal system correctly. If you find that they are not, then you can take appropriate disciplinary action.

3. Follow a Regular Waste Collection Schedule

Depending on the amount of waste your business generates, you should have a regular waste collection schedule. This will ensure that your bins are not overflowing and that your waste is disposed of properly.

For example, if you use polystyrene packages for food items, you are probably producing more of such waste than other businesses. As such, you should have a waste collection schedule that is more frequent than other businesses.

You can also opt to have on-site recycling facilities for materials that are recyclable, such as EPS. This will reduce the amount of waste that you need to dispose of regularly.

4. Work with a Recycling Facility

When it comes to recycling polystyrene, the key is to find a local recycling facility that accepts this type of material. if you are based in Sydney, then you can look for a facility that accepts polystyrene recycling Sydney has to offer.

However, it is still important to remember that not all recycling facilities accept polystyrene because it is difficult to recycle. In addition, most municipal solid waste programmes do not include polystyrene in their list of accepted materials.

If you are unable to recycle your polystyrene locally, you can try to sell it or donate it to a facility that can recycle it. You can also contact your state’s solid waste agency to see if there are any programmes in place for recycling polystyrene.

Implementing an efficient waste disposal system is not difficult, but it does require some effort and planning. By following the tips above, you can be sure that your business is doing its part in proper waste management. Most importantly, you are doing your part in protecting the environment from the harmful effects of polystyrene pollution. So, do not hesitate to start implementing these tips today!

Polystyrene Recycling FAQs

Q: Is it possible to recycle polystyrene in-house?

A: While it is possible to recycle polystyrene in-house, it is not recommended. This is because recycling polystyrene is a complicated and expensive process.

Q: What are the benefits of recycling polystyrene?

A: The benefits of recycling polystyrene include reducing pollution, conserving energy, and saving resources.

Q: How can I help reduce the environmental impact of polystyrene?

A: The best way to do this is to avoid using the material altogether. If you must use it, make sure to recycle it properly. You can also help by spreading awareness about the importance of polystyrene recycling.

Q: How much does polystyrene recycling cost?

A: The cost of recycling polystyrene varies depending on the location and scale of the recycling facility. However, it is generally more expensive than other types of recycling.

Wrapping Up

Being a business owner comes with a lot of responsibilities. Not only do you have to make sure that your business is running smoothly, but you also have to be aware of your impact on the environment.

At this point, you already know the answer to the question, “Is polystyrene recyclable?” And, you also know the importance of proper disposal and recycling of this material.

So, we hope that you will take the above-mentioned tips into consideration and do not forget to educate your employees and customers about the importance of polystyrene recycling. Only then you can truly make a difference in protecting the environment from pollution.

To pick up more tips and information on making your business more efficient, feel free to check out our other posts. Thanks for reading!