Is Polystyrene Recyclable? Here Is What You Should Know

Most individuals know cardboard and paper are recyclable. Several people also know that glass can effortlessly be recycled without any waste products being left behind. Yet one of the most common items that often creates confusion is polystyrene.

Polystyrene is one of the most conventionally-used plastics in Australia and can be used for anything from multi-pack yogurts to takeaway food containers.

Like several other types of plastic, polystyrene is slow to disintegrate and is bad news for the planet. This article will explain the answer to the question “is polystyrene recyclable?” including all you need to know about polystyrene.

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a naturally translucent and artificial thermoplastic extracted from a cinnamene monomer. It’s usually available in two forms which are rigid foam material and solid plastic. Its major property includes softening when applied to heat, and its films and sheets can be converted into different products used in various applications. It is one of the biggest plastic commodities in terms of market size.

The solid plastic form of polystyrene is frequently used in healthcare and medical applications like test tubes, containers, Petri-dishes, consumer appliances, CDs, smoke detectors, etcetera.

Talking about the foam form of polystyrene, it also has a broad range of packaging and consumer goods applications. You must have observed a white foam custom packaging whenever you purchase a new television or other electronic product; that’s polystyrene.

Like other thermoplastics, polystyrene is made by filtration of hydrogen fuels into denser groups called “fractions.” Some of those fractions are merged with precise catalysts; this process is called polymerization. Polystyrene foams are made by “blowing agents” that expand and shape the foam so that it can trap air. According to research carried out by some top universities, polystyrene can take up to 500 years to decay. But is polystyrene recyclable? Yes, it is.

What Else Can You Do With Polystyrene? 

There isn’t any perfect answer when it comes to discarding polystyrene. Disposing of polystyrene is very disappointing, but disposal isn’t the only preference:

  • You Can Reuse Your Polystyrene

Save up your polystyrene packaging for the next time you need to send an item to someone that might use it, such as a local store. 

  • You Can Also Repurpose It

Some experts recommend creating a polystyrene compost bin by filling a polystyrene case with some soil and compost kitchen waste. 

The good thing about this is you’re reusing something that would have gone in the plastic bin with a lid. However, you also risk combining microplastics into your soil and having little pieces of polystyrene litter the environment. 

Is Polystyrene Recyclable

The answer is yes. Polystyrene is a type 6 plastic and can be foamed or rigid, each with numerous applications. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is the most popular polystyrene used in everyday life; it’s used in refrigerators, cups for hot beverages, and electronic goods wrapping. 

This polystyrene is exceptionally light, consisting of 98 percent air and only two percent of actual plastic. EPS can be recycled and is transformed into General Purpose Polystyrene (GPPS) to create synthetic timber, video cassette cases, and coat hangers.

Rigid polystyrene designs come as plastic cutlery, yogurt containers, and CD cases. Most can be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin – ensure they’re dry and free of liquid and food before you place them in.

According to the Australia Packaging Covenant, only 29.7 percent of expanded polystyrene used for wrapping is recycled. Part of the issue is that when placed in kerbside bins, small pieces of EPS mix with other recyclables and are regarded as contamination. 

As a result, most councils in Australia hardly accept EPS foam for kerbside recycling. Some articles suggest disposing of polystyrene in a yellow waste bin since it is hard to recycle and takes a long time to decay.

Bottom Line

Is polystyrene recyclable? Yes, it is; this can be done by compacting, granulation, and densifying. Besides the fact that it can be generally reused in designing new polystyrene wrapping, furniture, and much more, polystyrene recycling is essential due to the ecological impact. Polystyrene is non-biodegradable, and less dense polystyrene forms can break down into small particles over time, which can get into the water and consistently endanger water life.