Polystyrene is a flexible plastic utilized in a wide variety of consumer goods. It is commonly used in products that require readability, such as food packaging and laboratory devices because it is robust and durable plastic. Polystyrene is a kind of thermoplastic that is rarely recycled. Styrene can also be found in strawberries, cinnamon, coffee, and cattle.
Most people are familiar with expanded polystyrene, sometimes used to pack take-out food boxes and white goods like microwaves. The waste bin must be lined with improved polystyrene.
Polystyrene is also occasionally used for other food packaging, such as multi-pack Yoghurts. Even though it isn’t easily recyclable, some government agencies accept recycling collections. Polystyrene is an extremely slow degrading material. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is entirely recyclable.
The term polystyrene refers to a plastic made from styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon. In the 1930s, Germany advanced that clear, brittle plastic, tough, large scale. The material is now used to produce CD and DVD covers as well as plastic forks. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a similar foam fabric that has gained popularity recently. EPS is an insulator since it is nearly 95% of air. It’s why beer coolers and home insulation are made of it. EPS is great for increasing buoyancy to life jackets and rafts because of its lightweight. It’s a wonderful packing material for providing cushioning while remaining light due to its lightness and malleability. Furthermore, because EPS is heat resistant and does not react with certain substances, it is widely used in the food business in products such as meat and poultry trays and the bins where fast-food hamburgers are served.
When it comes to recycling, though, some of the same factors that make polystyrene appealing may work against it. It isn’t easy to collect from curbside bins because of its lightness, and it frequently blows away, causing traffic gridlock. Because it is bulky, transporting it is difficult and expensive. Many municipal recycling programs no longer encourage them.
Polystyrene is frequently impossible to be recycled locally and must be sent to a centralized facility, increasing recycling costs and diminishing the incentive to recycle.
Recycled EPS is likely used instead of new EPS to create packaging and other materials. However, new EPS is favored for espresso cups and plates.
Polystyrene recycling is a major issue for many industries, after usage due to its volume to weight ratio makes it difficult to transport economically. Polystyrene is often the ideal packing material to use. It reduces the chance of damage to precious digital items and keeps and protects meals like fish and vegetables better than many other packaging materials. Regardless of polystyrene’s suitability for various packages, authorities are wrestling with the rising problem of figuring out how to dispose of massive amounts of waste packaging.
According to the Alliance for Foam Packaging Recycling, the polystyrene industry claims a recycling rate of roughly 12%, including leftovers from EPS manufacture that are immediately reused. The truth is that delivering new polystyrene is frequently easier and less expensive than collecting and processing waste.
Recycling of Polystyrene
This is the most efficient approach to recycle polystyrene. This method is not as effective with espresso cups and plastic forks, but it is ideal for packaging materials. The packing peanuts can be collected and reused. Shippers may also chop stiff packaging into small pieces and utilize it as loose packing. Most customers can recycle their packing peanuts with UPS.
The usage of Limonene
Applying Limonene, a natural solvent derived from orange peels is another option. This material allows EPS to be dissolved and concentrated, and it can be reused. It causes the EPS foam to melt without being heated, shrinking it to 5% of its original size.
The usage of heat
Thermal compaction reduces sliced EPS to a concentrated block that is significantly easier to ship.
Polystyrene produces just carbon dioxide and water vapor when burned in municipal incinerators. It’s a high-quality fuel for waste-to-power applications that recycles heat and puts it to good use.
Benefits of Recycling
Recycled EPS has been utilized to develop a product that looks similar to wood and can be used for fence posts and park seats. This material is cheaper than a typical wood and can be substituted for rainforest-harvested woods like teak and mahogany.
Reduction of Filter
The reduction of waste on both land and sea is the most evident result of polystyrene recycling. Because it isn’t always impacted by oxygen, water, or sunlight, EPS can exist indefinitely. Municipalities want to spend money to make things easy for residents.
Polystyrene takes up a lot of room in landfills and will remain there for hundreds of years. The landfill industry maintains that this isn’t a significant drawback because current dumps are protected from moisture and light and aren’t meant to promote biodegradation. When it reaches a landfill, even herbal garbage takes longer to decompose.
Reduction in the usage of oil in the production process
Making polystyrene necessitates the use of petroleum, which is a nonrenewable resource. As a result, recycling polystyrene reduces the amount of oil used in the manufacturing process. Because some energy must be spent moving and reprocessing the material, this is not a natural benefit.
An enormous reduction in the danger posed by marine ways of life
On the other side, polystyrene poses harm to aquatic life. Because EPS degrades over time, it breaks down into small particles that fish mistake for food and eat. The foam clogs the digestive tracts of marine animals, causing them to perish. According to a 2008 study published in Environmental Research, EPS accounts for sixty to eighty percent of marine litter. Recycling can help reduce waste that ends up in the ocean.
Polystyrene recycling also keeps the material out of fires, open flames, and burn barrels. Unless green incinerators are employed, polystyrene can release harmful compounds when burned.
The degradation of recycled EPS was also investigated. Before any examination of recycled materials, it is critical to determine the current levels of deterioration that result from the processing or usage circumstances of such materials. Using the FTIR approach, experiments are undertaken to measure the level of degradation in recycled EPS, taking into account all of these parameters. There were no significant variations in EPS before and after recovery and between recycled EPS and raw PS. It’s also worth noting that the additives used in the foaming process have no impact on the recovery process.
Finally, EPS recycling will create wealth from the trash. Recycling EPS is a cost-effective method of utilizing EPS waste without sacrificing performance. Furthermore, recycling is a step toward sustainable growth, and we encourage polystyrene recycling in the UAE.