How to Dispose of Polystyrene

Pile of polystyrene disposed of incorrectly.

Polystyrene, often recognised by the brand name Styrofoam, is a common material used in packaging and insulation. However, its non-biodegradable nature makes disposal a challenge. In this blog post, we present a guide on how to properly dispose of polystyrene while considering environmental impacts.

Can I Recycle Polystyrene?

The first step in disposing of polystyrene is to check your local recycling policies. Contact your local council or waste facility to see if they accept polystyrene, as not all recycling programmes do. Additionally, some areas have designated drop-off points for polystyrene recycling, which can often be found through a quick online search. Special recycling programmes or companies specifically handling polystyrene recycling are also worth exploring. A lot of commercial companies who produce polystyrene waste may invest in compactors to mitigate the volume of waste. One such device is the Styropactor Nano, which can be used on wet or dry material to produce bricks of polystyrene which can then be sold to recycling facilities.

Reusing Polystyrene

If recycling isn’t an option, consider reusing polystyrene. It can serve as excellent packing material for shipping fragile items, offering protection without additional cost. Polystyrene is also useful in various craft or DIY projects, making it a versatile material for creative endeavours. Moreover, it can be utilised as insulation in gardening or other household projects, providing practical benefits while reducing waste.

Disposal Methods

While disposal of polystyrene can be done through recycling or reuse, when this is not feasible, it can be done through the general waste bin. To save space, you can break the polystyrene into smaller pieces and ensure it is securely packed to prevent it from blowing away, as it is an incredibly light material, capable of easily littering the environment. Unfortunately, if no other options are available, the polystyrene will be transported to landfill which is not ideal, though sometimes it is unavoidable.

Pile of polystyrene disposed of incorrectly.

Environmental Considerations

Burning polystyrene releases toxic fumes that are harmful to both health and the environment. To mitigate the environmental impact, it may be wise to consider minimising your use of polystyrene altogether. Alternatives to this are to opt for biodegradable packaging materials whenever possible, reducing the volume of polystyrene waste and promoting more sustainable practices.

By following these steps, you can responsibly dispose of polystyrene and explore recycling and reuse options. This approach not only helps in managing waste more effectively but also contributes to environmental conservation efforts.