What happens to the polystyrene you collect?

What is polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is commonly used in packaging materials. Styrofoam is a brand name for polystyrene.

Can I put polystyrene in my curbside recycling bin?

No, you should not put polystyrene in your kerbside recycling bin as it will not be processed and will likely end up in landfill. However, polystyrene can be recycled, but it requires a specialised process that is not widely available. RecycleSmart will collect polystyrene from your doorstep and drop it off to be recycled. 

How should I prepare my polystyrene for recycling?

All polystyrene should be white type, clean and uncontaminated by food or dirt. Our recycling partner has a very strict “no contamination” policy as they simply can’t process polystyrene with sticky tape or labels. The driver will have to leave the polystyrene behind if it is contaminated. Thanks in advance for your help :) 

Polystyrene we don’t collect:

  • Bean bag beans
  • Coloured polystyrene 
  • Food grade polystyrene/food packaging 
  • Peanut-shaped loose foam packaging 
  • Meat trays
  • Plastic or foam wrapping
  • Polystyrene products that have paper/plastic labels 
  • Polystyrene covered in dirt, concrete or cement

What happens to the polystyrene after it is recycled?

Polystyrene is processed using state-of-the-art recycling machines that combine the function of crushing, compacting, and pelletising into one step, thereby reducing manual labour. 

It can then be repurposed and used in everyday, essential items like car seats, bike helmets, food and medical transport, and, as sustainable building insulation for Australian homes. The majority of manufacturers place recycled polystyrene back into building products that are essential to building thermally efficient and sustainable homes.

Why is polystyrene recycling important?

When polystyrene breaks down, it does not biodegrade or decompose in the environment like some organic materials. Instead, it can persist in the environment for hundreds of years.

Over time, polystyrene can fragment into microplastics, through exposure to sunlight, heat, and physical weathering. These microplastics can then enter the food chain through ingestion by animals and ultimately affect human health. Additionally, polystyrene can release toxic chemicals, such as styrene, during its breakdown process, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. 

Can I reuse polystyrene instead of recycling it?

Yes, reusing polystyrene is a great way to reduce waste. You can use it as packing material or even as a planter for small plants.