Tour explores opportunity and innovation in the expanded polystyrene industry

An industry tour has revealed plenty of opportunity to increase the recovery of expanded polystyrene (EPS) in Victoria via increased demand and new collection models.

Of the 50,000 tonnes of expanded polystyrene (EPS) resin imported into Australia each year, 70% is used in building construction, and about 30% is used to make single-use or short-term packaging. Only 27% of the EPS packaging is currently recycled.

In early December, we joined Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) to tour a number facilities in order to learn more about EPS manufacturing processes and products that can be made from virgin EPS resin and recycled EPS waste.

A highlight of the tour was visiting Western Health in Sunshine to hear about an EPS collection trial undertaken by the hospital and EPS manufacturer Foamex. The three month trial successfully utilised empty delivery trucks to collect over 400 cubic meters of EPS waste from Western Health. An ongoing, cost effective collection is now being negotiated.

Early discussions into adapting this collection model for council transfer stations suggest that once volumes, storage and transport logistics are examined, this could become a cost effective option for both transfer stations and EPS manufacturers.

Recycled EPS is currently in demand as an input for the manufacture of waffle pods for the building industry. Foamex is producing waffle pods containing up to 30% recycled EPS waste, and Polyfoam has developed a prototype tool to make waffle pods out of 100% recycled EPS waste. This technology was partially funded by MWRRG’s C&I Partnership program, and the successful prototype is now being upscaled to put into production in 2019.

 

Last updated: 18/12/2018