Are you correctly disposing your EPS waste?
There’s a right and a wrong way to dispose of expanded polystyrene. Which are you using?
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) sits in that undefined gray area when it comes to disposal. Does it go in the recycling bin? Does it go in the general waste bin? Are we required to use a more specific method for getting rid of our unwanted EPS? Is it best to hoard it until we’ve stockpiled enough of it for a bulk pick up?
Correctly disposing of EPS is important due its ubiquity. It’s easy to accumulate a whole lot of EPS, and we generally don’t repurpose or reuse it ourselves. In fact, it is all but impossible to re-use EPS as it is purpose-moulded for specific use.
The bulky nature of EPS means that it occupies a lot of space in landfill. According to the NSW Environment Protection Authority, the true cost of landfilling EPS is a whopping $2,500/tonne.
Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA), the national industry body for all EPS manufacturers and distributors in Australia, advises that EPS is recyclable at many stages of its life cycle.
Despite being a highly visible waste product, there is typically low community recognition that EPS is indeed a recyclable product.
The truth is that yes, EPS is recyclable. And if a product is able to be recycled, then we should certainly recycle it and not simply throw it in the general waste bin.
So, how do we responsibly dispose of EPS? Recycling EPS requires a specific process.
Commercial EPS Recycling
Many EPS manufacturers support and encourage their clients to recycle their excess or unwanted EPS. EPS can typically be returned to the manufacturer, where it can be recycled and reused.
Some of the more environmentally aware manufacturers supply clients with bags for on-site clean-up or engage contractors to collect unused EPS waste and transport it to their recycling facilities. Find out if the EPS manufacturer your business uses is a member of the EPSA and how it could help you recycle your unwanted EPS.
Organisations that use a vast quantity of EPS in their business could look at developing a waste management plan that covers the handling of EPS disposal. And if the business case warrants it, such organisations can invest in equipment such as an EPS hot compacting machine to more easily manage their EPS waste. This was the approach taken by Sydney Fish Market via a grant from the New South Wales EPA and the Australian Packaging Covenant.
Household EPS Recycling
On a smaller scale, guidance is also available to help households to correctly dispose of their EPS. Typically, only large industrial quantities of EPS are recycled in Australia, but thanks to the efforts of the EPSA there are now collection facilities in each mainland capital city that will accept all types of EPS for recycling. Visit the EPSA website to find out where the collection facility is in your state.
While it may be a gray area, helpful information is now available for both businesses and individual households that wish to responsibly dispose of their unwanted EPS waste.
Foamex & EPS recycling
Foamex is actively involved in the recycling of EPS and we are committed to recycling EPS waste. Our recycling facilities serve EPS end-users, building and road construction sites, and other EPS manufacturers. Our granulating machines reduce moulded EPS into beads that are reformed into new products.
Foamex is a proud member of the EPSA and follows all recommended EPS distribution and clean-up responsibilities as outlined in the Pod Code of Practice. Find out more.