Many are not aware EPS (expanded polystyrene) packaging is recyclable – and is being recycled successfully by businesses and consumers across the United States. The 2012 EPS Packaging Recycling Rate Study (the “Rate Study”) was conducted by the EPS Industry Alliance (EPS-IA). The 2012 results reflect a modest decrease in the number of post-consumer pounds recycled, and a substantial increase in the number of post-industrial pounds recycled based on data received from fifty one EPS manufacturers and independent recyclers in the United States.
EPS Recycling Rate Increased
EPS recycled during calendar year 2012 is more than 93 million pounds.This figure includes 36.7 million pounds of post-consumer packaging and 56 million pounds of post-industrial recovery. Post-commercial recycling is defined as any material that is recycled after its intended end-use. Post-industrial recovery includes EPS facility scrap that is recycled but never served its intended end-use as a packaging material. Since 1991, EPS recycling has demonstrated a stable baseline, incremental growth and steady end-use market developments. This growth can be attributed to innovative and sustainable programs specifically geared to EPS recycling. Businesses and consumers play a shared role in reducing the amount of packaging material that enters the waste stream by doing their part to recycle. Through this integrated approach – with everyone doing their part – increased recycling is achievable. As compared to the 2010 Rate Study, 2012 showed an increased incremental growth in the amount of post-industrial recycling.This is supported by a steadfast reliance on high volume sources and proves the success of industry recycling efforts in the United States.Advances in EPS recycling technology, collaborative collection programs and new end-use markets have continued to broaden EPS recycling opportunities. In addition,the EPS industry fosters ongoing development of new and innovative recycling technologies that will promote further EPS recycling growth.These include recycled content resin and unique volume reduction technologies that are showing great potential. Continue reading
Recycling is not always easy. But many of the nation’s businesses and organizations recycle expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging products with success. EPS recycling programs vary from organization to organization but all demonstrate a commitment to the environment and to sound business practices. Continue reading
Processing of EPS Scrap
EPS scrap is generally from construction, packaging and containers. It is costly and difficult to transport due to its volume to weight ratio. Methods of disposing EPS scrap include landfill, burning, extrusion pelletizing, melting, solving, and regrind and mix with concrete. The most convenient and efficient way is to densify the foam scrap and ship to recycler for further processing such as extrusion pelletizing.
Methods to Densify EPS
There are two main options to recycle EPS scrap. One way is to use heat (thermal densification) and the other way is without heating (compression). Compression involves crushing and compacting EPS by machine. The compacted materials are extruded into a solid ‘log’. The log is cut to length to fit onto a pellet. It is usual for the densified EPS to be stored on-site until 5 to 20 metric tones are available, as this makes transport and distribution more cost-effective. The more densely compacted the EPS is, the better, since a higher weight of EPS can be loaded for transport and a higher price per tone may be paid by the recycler. Compression can reduce EPS volume by up to forty times.
Thermal densification involves breaking up and melting EPS inside a controlled-temperature chamber. The temperature is controlled to allow the EPS to melt without burning. Higher compression ratios (up to 95% volume reduction) can be achieved using the melting method that involves heating the expanded polystyrene to a very high temperature to compress the product. The disadvantage of this method is that it involved a hot element that needed to remain powered throughout the day, and this proved to be very energy inefficient and posed safety hazards due to the off-gassing of chemicals. On-and-off operation of the machine can be a big waste of energy and time because of cooling and re-heating of the machine.
Choose the EPS that is Easy to Recycling
Not all materials are well suited for recycling. Post-consumer EPS packaging must be clean and free of tape, film and cardboard. Expanded polystyrene made with a fire retardant additive, typically used in the manufacture of EPS building insulation, requires special reprocessing conditions.
How to Make Use of Recycled Polystyrene?
Since EPS foam is made of thermoplastic called Polystyrene, and it can be recycled and make polystyrene material again.
The recycled EPS pellets can be than being used for many applications. Here are just a few examples:Re-use in injection molding applications – examples include plastic stationery products, video and CD cases, coat hangers, plant pots, etcRe-use in extrusion applications – one example, hardwood replacement, can be used to make products such as garden furniture, window and picture frames.