Polystyrene foam is completely recyclable and can be used to produce a number of plastic products. This diverts waste from landfill and reduces the demand for fossil fuel from which polystyrene is derived.
In Australia, 56,000 tonnes of EPS was consumed in 2019-20. During the same period over 7,800 tonnes of EPS was collected and recycled.1
Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) has a National Collection Network with recycling centres located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. Produce boxes are accepted free of charge and a service fee applies to other products. Many EPSA members also accept clean EPS scrap for recycling.
In addition, there are other independent operators who are able to recycle EPS. Ecycle Solutions offers a national service, supply bags and frames which are collected once filled.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
The collected EPS is fed into a granulation machine. The granulated material is compressed into continuous lengths and placed in pallets for shipping. Most EPS material recycled by the EPSA Collection Centres is exported for further reprocessing. However, EPSA is committed to working with Australian companies to develop a closed loop Australian based EPS recycling industry.
The EPS material is then shredded and extruded to form general-purpose polystyrene pellets. This can then be used as a feedstock for applications such as synthetic timber, outdoor furniture and decking, stationery products as well as plant pots and coat hangers.
More Info & Sources
How to Reduce and Recycle Plastics at Work – use our free guide to keep plastics in use and out of landfill
National Plastics Plan - EPS
Expanded Polystyrene Australia
1Australian Plastic Flows and Fates Study 2019-20