Expanded polystyrene

The recycling rate for expanded polystyrene (EPS) is growing due to major investment in recycling infrastructure coupled with a boost in industry awareness and knowledge.

In 2011, less than 10 per cent of expanded polystyrene (EPS) was recycled, being one of the most poorly recycled plastics in NSW. It is estimated that 12,000 tonnes of EPS is disposed of to landfill each year, taking up 240,000 cubic metres of landfill space.

Grants for EPS recycling infrastructure

To help increase recycling rates for EPS, during 2012–13 the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) issued grants to 19 organisations to a total value of $933,000 to build new EPS recycling infrastructure across NSW. The successful grant recipients included local councils, not-for-profit organisations and businesses that were either experienced providers of recycling services or generators (or aggregators) of large quantities of EPS in their own right.

The grants enabled these organisations to purchase EPS recycling equipment, making it economic to transport and recycle EPS back into plastic products.

While the tonnage of EPS diverted from landfill in the reporting period was 37 per cent of the original target (600 tonnes a year), the program outcomes include

  • establishing a resource recovery supply chain for EPS across NSW
  • raising awareness of EPS as a nuisance waste
  • changing EPS recycler approaches and behaviours
  • building the capacity of the grantees and their staff to design, implement and promote a single material recycling service (which could be translated to other materials like film plastic)
  • providing organisations with a model in how to design, develop and deliver a recycling project
  • expanding the market place for trading recovered EPS.

How to set up EPS recycling

Your EPS Journey – A Guide to Setting up Expanded Polystyrene Recycling provides practical advice on setting up an EPS recycling facility. The guide aims to help others develop similar networks for the recovery of EPS and boost the recycling rates for this material across the country.

Find an EPS recycling service

To find EPS recycling services:

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