Expanded Polystyrene Australia rolls out new recycling scheme

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National industry body Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) has launched a new initiative dubbed “StyroCycle” that allows manufacturers of polystyrene products to dispose of expanded packaging waste that will be recycled and turned into new products like building insulation. 

In a press release, EPSA said the idea came from members of the industry who are committed to National Recycling Targets.

Members of the industry came up with the concept after looking for an accessible option to recycle expanded polystyrene, given that there are no council or government-backed kerbside schemes to recycle this type of waste. 

EPSA President Simon Pickett stated that through StyroCycle, the body and its members are committed to lowering the quantity of expanded polystyrene trash transported to landfills.

“We do this by increasing awareness and strengthening partnerships at the community level to encourage a circular economy in our production practices,” Pickett said.

He added, “At StyroCycle, we aim to operate an effective and efficient circular economy. Expanded polystyrene is 100 per cent recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly.”

EPSA aims to collect, compress, and reuse EPS to generate products for sustainable building through the creation of collecting facilities at EPS manufacturing locations, local authorities, and other enterprises around Australia. 

“We also provide a free drop-off service for large quantities (up to 20 cubic metres) of clean expanded polystyrene,” Pickett added.

He said that Australia’s natural resources will benefit from this closed-loop system, which will also reduce waste, CO2 emissions, and water consumption.

According to EPSA, for decades, expanded polystyrene manufacturers such as Foamex and Polyfoam have recycled expanded polystyrene. 

These producers have invested in cutting-edge EPS technology and methods throughout time, considerably increasing the efficiency of EPS recycling

The machines integrate crushing, compacting, and pelletising functions into a single phase, minimising manual effort.

In particular, StyroCycle focuses on polystyrene packaging created within a household or small company, such as electrical appliance packaging, which may be disposed of at EPS producers.

To date, StyroCycle has two manufacturers and four operational facilities in Victoria and South Australia. 

By 2024, the program expects more manufacturers and recyclers to join, with at least eight more facilities spread throughout Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania.

StyroCycle is also collaborating with other companies, such as municipalities, garbage transfer stations, and small businesses with high volumes of EPS waste, such as furniture and electrical importers and sellers.