Is polystyrene recyclable?

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March 20, 2018

Tags: polystyrene

The short answer is yes. Polystyrene is a type 6 plastic and can be rigid or foamed, each with a variety of applications.

Rigid polystyrene is used to make yoghurt containers, plastic cutlery, and CD cases. Most can be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin – just make sure they’re dry and free of food and liquids before you put them in.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is perhaps the most common in everyday life, used in cups for hot beverages, refrigerators, and electronic goods packaging. EPS foam is extremely light, consisting of 98% air and only 2% of actual plastic. EPS is completely recyclable, and is turned into General Purpose Polystyrene (GPPS) to make video cassette cases, coat hangers and synthetic timber.

The Australia Packaging Covenant reports that only 29.7% of expanded polystyrene used for packaging is recycled. Part of the problem is that when placed in kerbside bins, small pieces of EPS get mixed in with other recyclables, and is considered contamination. As a result, most councils in Australia rarely accept EPS foam for kerbside recycling.

Styrofoam™ is often confused with expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam but it is actually a trademarked term for closed-cell extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam used in the construction industry for building insulation in walls and roofs, and thermal insulation in foundations.