The Polystyrene Association of SA is South Africa’s largest polystyrene recycling network and is made up of a group of companies and individuals that share a deep-seated passion for recycling and the health of our environment. To this end, we work tirelessly to develop new projects and end-markets that will express our commitment to sustainable business practices and develop a sustainable circular economy for the polystyrene industry.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Polystyrene can be recycled up to 20 times without damage to its physical properties. In order to sustainably transport polystyrene for recycling, it must be compacted or condensed in order to get rid of all the air that gives EPS its exceptionally light weight. Our recycling programmes are able to reduce the volume of polystyrene 50 times!
- In South Africa, polystyrene is recycled into a wide variety of different products, ranging from picture frames and coat handers, to seedling trays, lightweight cement blocks, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture and decking for construction.
- It takes approximately 45 meat trays / 41 hamburger clamshells / 36 six pack yoghurt tubs to produce an A4-sized picture frame made from recycled polystyrene.
Recycling polystyrene tips:
- Clean your polystyrene in used dishwash water
- Place it in your recycling bag with all your other recyclables
Visit www.mywaste.co.za to find your nearest recycling centre if your municipality does not do kerb-side collection of recyclables.
Polystyrene Recycling Projects
The biggest success for polystyrene recycling in recent months has undoubtedly come from this innovative and exciting new use and application that mixes an aggregate of post-consumer and post-industrial polystyrene granulated into beads with cement and additives to form insulated, soundproof, fireproof, water-resistant lightweight concrete blocks and screeds.
Recycled, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) in every shape, form, colour and grade are being used with great success in building and construction projects as lightweight concrete bricks and screeds. Because polystyrene is mixed into the special cement mixture, there is no problem with pigmented packaging. Even the black or post-consumer polystyrene that was until recently difficult to recycle, is bought from recyclers with great eagerness.
Whilst initially lightweight concrete bricks may cost roughly the same as traditional cement bricks, developers are able to enjoy significant savings in that they weighs less than half of a conventional brick (lower transport costs and CO2 emissions), have outstanding SABS fire ratings and an Agrement Certification, and offers excellent insulation against sound and temperature. blocks are lighter than conventional bricks and the building process is much quicker.
Because they are produced in sizes that are easy to handle for quick construction, it takes only 1 day to build a 42 m² home compared to 3 days when building with conventional bricks.
Lightweight bricks also don’t absorb water, meaning that there is no mould and therefore make it a healthier option.
Polystyrene has traditionally been viewed as a difficult to recycle plastic with very limited end-markets. Thanks to modern technological advancements and out-of-the-box thinkers and innovators, new ways of recycling high impact and expanded polystyrene together have been developed in recent years, to produce decorative curtain rods, picture frames, cornices and mouldings.
These products are lightweight, yet sturdy and can be finished in a variety of different colors. Recyclers readily accept post-consumer and post-industrial polystyrene for these end-markets.
We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for polystyrene beads from crafting enthusiasts and businesses who are looking to buy pelletized polystyrene beads for use as fillers for a variety of different products, such as beanbags, pillows and chairs and the locally developed “cooking bags”.
Post-industrial, recycled polystyrene is excellent quality, clean and white and therefore ideal to be recycled into crafting beads – at a fraction of the cost of traditional virgin material. The Polystyrene Association plays an instrumental role in connecting buyers and sellers of recycled polystyrene beads.
The cooking bag is a heat-retention cooker that requires only enough heat to start the cooking process. Because of the insulating properties of polystyrene, the attractive-looking bag is filled with polystyrene pellets that allow it to retain the heat and completes the cooking process with no further electricity needed.
This cooking method is ideally suited to rice, pap, soups, vegetables, meat and vegetable stews and casseroles. Because of the slow-cooking method, the food retains its nutrients and texture, resulting in truly appetizing meals.
Due to its insulating properties, the cooking bag also keeps cold and frozen foodstuffs cold for several hours – making it the newest “must have” item when travelling with kids who are fussy eaters and will only eat mom’s homemade food, or when going on a picnic.
With the escalating cost of electricity and the fact that many of the rural areas in our country still has no access to electricity, the cooking is a truly wonderful invention that is proudly South African. Two independent studies conducted have found that with regular use, the cooking bag can save at least 15kWh of electricity and 1.6 liters of paraffin a week, and as much as 50% of the energy needed of cooking. A single bag also prevents 500kg of carbon emissions per year.
Cooking food in the cooking bag is a two-step process:
- Bring your dish to the boil on the stovetop and let it boil for a few minutes. The stovetop-time depends on the ingredients. A pot of rice, for instance, only requires 5 minutes, while a meat stew will have to boil for about 30 minutes.
- Transfer the pot into the cooking bag, close tightly and leave it to cook.
The cooking bag benefits communities and the environment in the following ways:
- Improved air quality in homes by reducing smoke from cooking fires.
- Reduced risk of shack fires caused by paraffin stoves.
- Households can save around 50% of energy used for cooking.
- The resultant cost savings empower communities by increasing the cash available for discretionary expenses.
- Tasty, nutritious meals which can be prepared ahead of time.
- Reduced food wastage as food cannot burn or overcook.
- The cooling properties allow people dependent on public transport to bring their food purchases home before it spoils.
- The manufacturing process creates jobs and develops skills.
- Reduced total community demand for wood as fuel in rural areas promotes forest re-growth and biodiversity.
- Polystyrene is re-used and being diverted from landfill.
Protective Packaging Beads
Various companies produce the packaging beads by recycling their offcut sheets. The beads act as great filler and protective material for fragile boxed goods.
We have had widespread success by linking our recycling and collection efforts to our “charity projects” such as the Tutu Desk, and Breadtags for Wheelchairs projects. These initiatives offer much-needed help and improvements to the lives of the less fortunate through the simple act of recycling their yoghurt tubs, cutlery and breadtags made from High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS).
Breadtags for Wheelchairs
The well-known “Breadtags for Wheelchairs” project has already touched hundreds of lives around the country and has now also even spread beyond our borders to Japan and Australia.
This project encourages volunteers to collect their breadtags (made from High Impact Polystyrene) which are then sold to be recycled into seedling trays. The money made from the sale is used to “purchase” wheelchairs for people who need them but are unable to afford them due to financial difficulties.
Industry leaders pay for these breadtags in order to recycle them into seedling trays, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture, coat hangers, poles and decking.
Breadtags should not end up in our country’s landfills as they have a good recycling market value. Factories manufacturing polystyrene and other plastics consume less energy when they used recycled products – resulting in a cleaner, greener and healthier environment.
Tutu Desk Project
The Tutudesk is a simple, portable and robust lapdesk made from recycled High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) that children can place on their laps to work – whether they are sitting on the floor or on a chair. It creates a dedicated ‘work zone’ and stable writing platform.
Each desk is designed to last the lifetime of the child at school and falls under the patronage of Archbishop Desmond Dudu.
DID YOU KNOW
1 kg of yoghurt tubs are used to makes one lapdesk