Everything You Need to Know About Polystyrene Recycling in Sydney

Polystyrene is one of the most frequently utilized plastics in Australia and can be used to package several household items ranging from eggs to peanuts. Like several other kinds of plastic, polystyrene takes time to biodegrade and is harmful to the planet.

According to some experts, the decay of polystyrene can take up to 500 years. Therefore, rather than disposing of them in landfills, it’s best to recycle them. Here, you’ll learn about polystyrene, polystyrene recycling in Sydney, and how to dispose of polystyrene. Let’s dig in!

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a resourceful type of plastic used in the production of packaging for several consumer items. It’s commonly used in items that demand transparency, such as laboratory products and food wrapping. When manufacturers mix polystyrene with different additives, colorants, or other plastics, they can use it to produce appliances, toys, surfboards, automobile parts, electronics, toys, etcetera.

There are also situations where polystyrene is made into a fume material, referred to as extruded polystyrene (XPS) or expanded polystyrene (EPS). Manufacturers use polystyrene to produce household appliances and roadway stabilization systems because of their padding and insulating properties.

Scientists make polystyrene by intertwining, or interlacing styrene, an essential chemical that can be used to produce several items. You can also find styrene in natural foods such as strawberries and coffee.

Polystyrene Recycling in Sydney

Polystyrene is useful to our day-to-day lives, but some of the characteristics that make polystyrene beneficial can also negatively affect it when it comes to recycling. Its nimbleness makes it difficult to take out from containers. 

Because of its cumbersome nature, some companies find it hard and costly to transport. Although some recycling programs in Australia don’t accept polystyrene, many polystyrene drop-off stations in Sydney will collect it. 

One of the major difficulties of recycling plastics in Sydney and other places around the world is that you have to assemble the same kind of plastic and categorize them by their specific container code; a number that you can find underneath the container that makes it easy to identify the kind of material. Polystyrene has more issues than other plastics that manufacturers use in items like soda bottles, detergents, and plastic bags. 

Although soda bottles are comparatively clean when disposed of, polystyrene used in food storage is frequently fused with leftover food, paper, and other kinds of plastic, like the straw that’s disposed of with an EPS cup. Under normal circumstances, you can’t recycle polystyrene on your own. You have to carry it to a major plant; this increases the running cost of the recycler and reduces their profits. 

It’s also essential to note that the government doesn’t allow recycled polystyrene for items containing food because of health concerns. This stance means that recycled EPS is used to make packaging for other plastics, but new EPS is required when making plates and coffee cups. If you find it difficult to dispose of your polystyrene waste in Sydney, you can check online for recycling boxes near me.

Benefits of Recycling Polystyrene in Sydney

After recycling polystyrene, manufacturers can redesign them into multipurpose polystyrene pallets, which they can use for transport, storage, and other functions. They’re particularly beneficial to companies that maintain extreme hygiene standards, such as the pharmaceutical and food industries.

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Some manufacturers shred polystyrene into component beads that they instantly reuse in new polystyrene items, such as cups, packaging, foams, and more. Manufacturers use this kind of polystyrene for the most affordable, durable furniture.

The pellets manufacturers use in this furniture is one they can also utilize in plant pots, traffic cones, fence panels, and more. Pellet use is growing daily, so there’s a high chance that manufacturers will use them more broadly in the future. 

Which Types of Polystyrene Are Recyclable?

The three types of polystyrene foam that manufacturers frequently use are Polystyrene, extruded Polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene. They’re all recyclable, but expanded polystyrene, which is the lightest type of polystyrene, is the most broadly recycled of them all. Most Sydney councils will take it off your hands as part of their plastic recycling program. 

Expanded polystyrene is sometimes called Styrofoam, but this is the name of another polystyrene product. It’s crucial to note that extruded polystyrene has a more firm cell structure than expanded polystyrene, so cracking it into smaller reusable polystyrene might be difficult. Still, it can be carried out by a process referred to as compacting.

How to Dispose of Polystyrene

Regardless of how common this plastic is, polystyrene disposal is still the main issue for several organizations and the government. Polystyrene takes up a considerable amount of space in refuse bins; this means waste bins get full hastily, and there’s a need to dispose of the bin frequently. Below are some ways you can use to dispose of Polystyrene


This method works by putting the expanded polystyrene foam products into a compactor to decrease the size.

Shredding Method

Big pieces of polystyrene can be cut into flakes identical to what you might do with delicate documents that you don’t want other people to see.

Extrusion or Melting

Here’s one of the most effective ways to dispose of polystyrene in an eco-friendly way. In this method, polystyrene flakes are melted, heated, and compelled to go through clumping extruders. Manufacturers use the resulting plastic by melting it to make other items like picture frames, DVD cases, clothes hangers, and more.

How Long Does Polystyrene Take to Decompose?

Determining how long it’ll take for polystyrene to decompose is challenging because polystyrene takes a long period to decay and is difficult to recycle.

Decomposing polystyrene requires a large amount of heat and light. However, our environment doesn’t contain the amount of heat it needs. So, decomposing polystyrene can take up to 500 years, and in a few cases, it might not even decompose. 

However, the presence of food remnants in polystyrene might make decomposing quicker. Even with this outcome, polystyrene might still take a few hundreds of years to decompose completely. For this reason, you shouldn’t dispose of polystyrene recklessly.

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Bottom Line

The benefits and the challenges of polystyrene recycling in Sydney are perfect examples of the complicated problems that can manifest when searching for ways to preserve resources and safeguard the environment. The solutions for recycling polystyrene aren’t always straightforward. 

But we can’t avoid polystyrene recycling in Sydney by turning to alternative materials. For instance, the paper cup that stores your coffee is plastic-coated and isn’t recyclable. It doesn’t disintegrate in landfills too. 

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