Can You Put Polystyrene in a Compactor?

A man stands bent over as he pulls compacted Styrofoam tubes from the Styropactor Nano. The Styropactor Nano has four curved legs and a sticker of two eyes on the front of its metal cuboid shell.

Many of us are left wondering about the best practices for disposal and recycling of polystyrene. A common question is whether polystyrene can be placed in a traditional waste compactor. The answer isn’t straightforward, as typical compactors are not suited for polystyrene; however, specialised polystyrene compactors known as ‘Styropactors’ are designed specifically for this purpose.

Why Not Use Regular Compactors for Styrofoam?

Polystyrene is incredibly light and voluminous compared to its weight, which poses a unique challenge in waste management. Regular compactors, which are effective for denser materials like paper, cardboard, and metal, do not perform well with expanded polystyrene (EPS). In standard compactors, the material’s volume is reduced only minimally, which means it continues to occupy significant space in waste bins and landfills.

Moreover, compacting polystyrene in conventional compactors can lead to machine blockages and inefficiencies, adding to manual labour times which is the antithesis of what a compactor should boast. The air pockets within EPS make it difficult to crush down effectively using normal compaction methods. Additionally, without proper compaction, Styrofoam remains a problematic waste material, often blowing away from disposal sites and contributing to environmental pollution.

The Role of Styropactors

Enter the Styropactor—a specialised compactor designed to handle and process Styrofoam waste efficiently. The Styropactor Nano, for instance, is specifically engineered to compress Styrofoam into dense blocks, reducing its volume by up to 90%. This substantial reduction in size translates into easier handling, storage, and transportation, making the recycling process more feasible and cost-effective.

A man stands bent over as he pulls compacted Styrofoam tubes from the Styropactor Nano. The Styropactor Nano has four curved legs and a sticker of two eyes on the front of its metal cuboid shell.

Along with the Nano, there are a range of Styropactors to choose from, each with different capacities and infeeds to suit the needs of your business. For example, Strautmann’s StyroPress is quickly loaded for continuous running with the ability to create 24-tonne payloads for the highest rebates for the minimum transport. This machine would suit companies producing large amounts of polystyrene waste and find it’s getting on top of them.

A large palette of polystyrene next to the StyroPress.

The process used by Styropactors involves melting the EPS at a controlled temperature, which eliminates the air and extrudes it into compact blocks. These blocks can then be recycled more efficiently, turning problematic waste into a resource that can be reused in manufacturing various polystyrene products.

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Polystyrene Compacting

Using a Styropactor not only frees up space and mitigates handling issues associated with EPS disposal but also offers significant environmental benefits. By compacting and recycling polystyrene, we reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills, minimise environmental hazards, and conserve natural resources. Businesses benefit economically from reduced waste disposal costs and potential revenue from recycled EPS products.

While it is advised not to put EPS in a regular compactor, the use of a Styropactor presents an effective solution to managing this type of waste. Facilities like supermarkets, electronics manufacturers, and logistics companies, where EPS is frequently used, would greatly benefit from investing in this specialised equipment. By embracing such technologies, we can take significant strides towards more sustainable waste management practices.