StyroCycle expanded polystyrene recycling scheme launches

Wednesday, 31 May, 2023

StyroCycle expanded polystyrene recycling scheme launches

Households and small businesses in Australia now have an option to dispose of expanded polystyrene packaging waste to be recycled.

A recycling scheme called StyroCycle has been launched as an initiative of Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA), run by EPSA members who are manufacturers of expanded polystyrene. It will enable clean expanded polystyrene to be recycled and used to manufacture new products like building insulation.

Members of the industry who are committed to the National Recycling Targets designed this idea while seeking an accessible solution for recycling expanded polystyrene, given there are no council or government-backed kerbside schemes to recycle this type of waste.

Simon Pickett, EPSA President, said EPSA is committed to reducing the amount of expanded polystyrene waste in landfill by increasing awareness and strengthening community partnerships.

“At StyroCycle, we aim to operate an effective and efficient circular economy. Expanded polystyrene is 100% recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly,” Pickett said.

EPSA will establish collection facilities at EPS manufacturing points, local councils and other businesses across Australia. It will also offer a free drop-off service for large quantities of clean expanded polystyrene.

Through this, it will create products for sustainable building by collecting, compressing and reusing EPS.

“This closed loop system will benefit our natural resources, minimise waste, lower CO2 emissions and water use,” Pickett said.

Manufacturers such as Foamex and Polyfoam have been recycling EPS for decades and have invested in machinery and processes to do so. The machines combine the functions of crushing, compacting, and pelletising into one step, reducing manual labour.

StyroCycle will focus specifically on the polystyrene packaging that is generated within a household or small business, like electrical appliance packaging. An advantage of the scheme is that waste will not be transported elsewhere and warehoused, stored for long periods or exported. Typically, it will be dealt with quickly as bins are filled and emptied daily.

All non-contaminated EPS can be recycled, including:

  • Packaging for small and large appliances (like big screen TVs, dishwashers & oven packaging)
  • White polystyrene fruit and vegetable boxes (clean boxes only — all organic material and labels must be removed before recycling)
  • Uncontaminated (mud and concrete-free) expanded polystyrene (EPS) from building & construction sites
  • Bean bag beans.

StyroCycle currently has two manufacturers with four sites up and running in Victoria and South Australia. The scheme expects an additional eight sites across Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania by 2024.

It is also working with other organisations that have the potential to become drop-off points like councils, retailers, waste transfer stations and small businesses with high volume EPS waste like furniture and electrical importers.

Clean polystyrene can be dropped off at the following StyroCycle premises:

  • Polyfoam 11 Brooklyn Avenue Dandenong VIC 3175 T: 03 9794 8320.
  • Foamex Group (Head Office) — 31-33 Gatwick Rd, Bayswater North VIC T: 03 8739 5800.
  • Foamex North — 17-21 Freight Drive, Somerton VIC T: 03 9308 0045.
  • Foamex West — 430 Barry Rd, Coolaroo VIC T: 03 9302 1022 from 1 July 2021.
  • Foamex South Australia — 15 Peachey Rd, Edinburgh North SA T: 08 8349 9919.

Image caption: StyroCycle bin at Foamex. Image: Supplied.

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