Polystyrene is one of the most used plastic variants worldwide. This plastic is handy for producing various items, ranging from plastic containers to multi-pack yoghurts.
Despite polystyrene’s versatility, it’s slow to biodegrade. According to a report, branded polystyrene can take up to 500 years to fully decompose.
Decomposing polystyrene emits harmful styrene. Constant exposure to this chemical poses adverse health effects such as liver and nerve tissue damage.
Due to the repercussions linked to polystyrene, it’s no surprise numerous countries are formulating rules revolving around its use and disposal.
But there’s a long-standing question — is polystyrene recyclable? Since answers to “polystyrene recycling” queries are somewhat grey-zoned, this article seeks to change the narrative.
In the subsequent segments, we’ll give a detailed overview of polystyrene, how it can be recycled, and the advantages of recycling polystyrene foam.
Are you yearning to know more? Let’s get started!
What Is Polystyrene?
Polystyrene is plastic derived from a hydrocarbon tagged “styrene.” It has two forms — foamed and solid. Albeit versatile, recycling polystyrene remains a daunting activity.
Items manufactured with polystyrene include:
- Foam drink cups
- Egg cartons
- Yoghurt packs
- Packaging materials
- Take-away food boxes
Styrofoam and Polystyrene: Similar or Different?
You’ve probably encountered the Styrofoam concept when making “is polystyrene recyclable?” queries on Google and Bing. However, it’s pertinent to note that Styrofoam and polystyrene are two different terms. Quickly, let’s get some context.
For starters, Styrofoam is a commercial polystyrene brand. As its naming suggests, Styrofoam polystyrene has a “foam-like” structure and bluish colour scheme. So, if you find a blue-coloured polystyrene-based foam, it’s most likely Styrofoam.
Styrofoam and polystyrene also differ in usage. For example, while polystyrene is used to manufacture disposable drinks and food packs, Styrofoam is primarily used in the construction and building sector.
Now that we’ve given an overview of polystyrene alongside its differences from Styrofoam, it’s time to answer the “is polystyrene recyclable?” question.
Is It Possible to Recycle Polystyrene?
If you’re among those making queries along these lines — can polystyrene be recycled? — the answer is a resounding “yes.” However, it’s important to note that polystyrene foam recycling relies on specific factors, including its condition, format, use, and disposal mediums. Since polystyrene’s recycling process is complex, not all variations are recyclable.
Recycling Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is 100% possible. Although individuals can use their household’s recycling bin to recycle polystyrene, it’s different for companies.
For context, entities using high polystyrene amounts must engage licensed polystyrene carriers to convey these plastics to a recycling facility. These facilities sort, clean, and recycle polystyrene in a manner that doesn’t negatively impact the environment.
Top Advantages of Recycling Polystyrene
Now you know polystyrene is recyclable, let’s look at the significant advantages linked to this endeavour. Notable mentions include:
● Formation of Wood Polystyrene
Recycling Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) formulates a by-product tagged “wood polystyrene.” Unlike natural wood, splinters, rot, and warp are non-existent on wood polystyrene. What’s more? This wood variant doesn’t require painting and vanishing, ever!
● Litter Reduction
Polystyrene litter can remain in landfills for hundreds of years before decomposing. When individuals and companies meticulously recycle polystyrene-based items, the chances of landfills and seas filling up with related waste reduces.
● Volume Decrease
Polystyrene compactors typically feature at recycling facilities. This equipment can compact over 300 kg of Polystyrene per hour, reducing its overall volume by almost 95%. As such, seamless polystyrene recycling is feasible.
● Space Saving
Polystyrene, especially larger variations, can occupy vital industrial space. Recycling activities ensure critical workspace segments are freed up, promoting productivity in the long run.
If you’ve made queries like “is polystyrene recyclable?” but haven’t gotten comprehensive answers, we hope our detailed guide pointed you in the right direction. To stall the long-term repercussions of these plastics, ensure you dispose of them in a recycling bin immediately after use.