26 May 2021Do councils recycle polystyrene?

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The recycling of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not universally practised

Most local councils don’t offer it as a kerbside service and have been known to urge you to dispose of it in your bins ready for collection.

We receive enquiries from the general public on a regular basis, asking how they can dispose of their polystyrene waste sustainably as their local councils don’t offer this service. 

One of the main reasons councils tend to avoid recycling polystyrene is because it is made up of 98% air, very light but nevertheless bulky. This makes it difficult to collect as part of the fortnightly collections, it either takes up too much room in the collection bins or it is vulnerable to being blown away.

Many of the general public that we have spoken with would be prepared to travel to their local household recycling centre if they could dispose of their EPS sustainably.  Therefore, we are going to address the most common polystyrene recycling myths to urge more councils to take action!

Polystyrene isn’t recyclable

Commercially, polystyrene is used by many retailers of electrical and white goods and is already being recycled by many leading retailers. The industry would like to see wider recycling provision for this extremely important and valuable material, and some key producers are supporting work in this area (British Plastics Federation).

We have worked with various UK businesses for over 10 years, providing sustainable, cost-effective EPS compactors.  Thousands of tonnes of EPS have been recycled so far this year! 

Polystyrene recycling is expensive

Polystyrene in its expanded form is expensive to transport, this means that a full skip or lorry load of polystyrene would have very little weight, therefore the product becomes non-cost effective to recycle when it’s transported it’s a non compacted form.

Full loads of compacted polystyrene would typically have payloads of 15-20 tonnes when valued at up to £600 per tonne this certainly makes the product highly recyclable and valuable. 

We can’t work out the logistics

Greenbank is well established and experienced within the recycling of polystyrene, we have worked with many clients over the last twenty years. We are prepared to sit down with any council to work out the most cost-effective logistics method to make a profitable recycling venture.

Not enough quantity from households

The amount of polystyrene from households is increasing due to the amount of online shopping. Data suggests that from the 20,000 visits to household waste sites, this results in ½ a tonne of polystyrene (British Plastics Federation). This accumulates to the same volume of one rolling off container, on average this would cost approx £250 to handle. This same 500kg is also worth £300, making the actual difference in value £550 or £1,100 per tonne. This is a serious venture for councils. 

Why not discuss polystyrene compactors further with our experts? We have wide industry knowledge and are ready to help companies take the next steps towards recycling and additional revenue streams.

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