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Expanded Polystyrene Foam: Waste Reduction and Recycling Opportunities

Contrary to public opinion, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) can be and is effectively recycled and reused every year with recycling rates on the rise.

Incorrectly referred to as ‘Styrofoam’, EPS is recyclable and is being recycled by businesses and consumers across the world (epsrecycling.org) into a variety of new products. There are four main waste reduction options for EPS packaging: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Recover.

It is estimated that each recycled tonne of EPS is equivalent to saving as much as 637 gallons of oil, and as the use of recycled content to produce new packaging increases (10-20%), the consumption of energy decreases (13%).

In recent years, major electronic car manufacturers and electrical retailers have successfully introduced economically viable recycling schemes to help in the collection of used EPS to divert from landfills and oceans. Recycling systems include sorting and compaction, collection, granulation blending and extrusion.

In the UK, the recycling of polystyrene is hindered by the lack of required recycling infrastructures. Unlike its recyclable plastic and paper counterpart materials, EPS recycling is very much in its infancy at a national level. As a member of the EPS packaging group, DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products encourages recycling and the diversion of EPS from landfills by accepting polystyrene from consumers at EPS recycling points located at manufacturing sites across the UK.

By offering recycling points throughout the UK, DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products diverts 30 tonnes of EPS waste from landfills annually, which is then recycled in diverse ways.

In addition to providing EPS recycling sites, DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products designs and manufactures new products by utilising as much recycled granulated EPS in the production mix as possible. New products that consist of a blend of recycled and virgin materials will exhibit the same properties without the loss of thermal, compressive or shock absorption characteristics.

As the environmental need for more sustainable business practices grow, Foam Products will continue to keep EPS recycling in focus in order to realise its full recycling potential.

For more information on EPS recyclability visit epsrecycling.org to find a nearby collection facility.

 

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