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How To Properly Dispose Polystyrene Foam

Polystyrene Foam pellets

It’s lightweight, cheap, and a good insulator.

With these qualities, polystyrene foam, more popularly known as Styrofoam (actually the brand!), dominated almost everything—from packaging to construction and electronics. But did you know that polystyrene foam takes about 500 years to decompose?

It’s true, and the worst part is that most of us don’t know how to properly categorise and dispose of polystyrene foam. Is it recyclable? Residual? 

With this confusion and perhaps lack of environmental empathy, these are often littered. 382 million pieces of Polystyrene Foam flowed through Melbourne’s Yarra River annually, making it the most prevalent waste gathered from Australian waterways. 

There’s a need for action.

How do you dispose of Polystyrene Foam?

polystyrene form

Polystyrene is a plastic—specifically small beads that have been softened and expanded to form Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS). If that’s not enough to explain why littering polystyrene foam is an environmental concern, I don’t know what will. 

Once it gets into the ocean, it disassembles into little cells that marine creatures consume. Needless to say, it’ll eventually kill them. To stop this from happening, here are typical ways to properly dispose of polystyrene foam:

1. Red-lidded garbage bins

Following the kerbside bin collection scheme, polystyrene foam must be disposed of via red-lidded garbage bins meant landfilling. The following items are also acceptable in these bins:

  • Plastic bags
  • Disposable nappies
  • Food scraps
  • Broken crockery 

Remember to bag polystyrene foam before disposal to avoid getting stuck and hindering garbage truck emptying.

2. Council clean-up 

You may book a household kerbside collection for large amounts of polystyrene foam. Households are given 2-3 times of these collections annually, depending on the councils’ regulations. 

Ensure your bags of polystyrene foam adheres to the councils’ specifications for successful collections.

3. Rubbish removal services

If you’re too busy or confused to segregate waste, you may also ask for professional help. Rubbish removal services, like Paul’s Rubbish Removal, will properly dispose of your polystyrene foam for an affordable price. All you have to do is call and point!

Why you shouldn’t put Polystyrene Foam into the yellow recycling bin?

It’s simply because most council recycling programs and facilities don’t accept polystyrene foam. Conventional recycling methods find it difficult to process polystyrene foam due to the following:

  • Contamination

Polystyrene foam is often contaminated with food or drink residue, and its porous nature makes cleaning difficult.

  • Density

Although polystyrene foam comprises 95-98% air, it takes up significant space, making it impractical and difficult to store. 

These concerns then beg the question, is polystyrene foam recyclable?

Is Polystyrene Foam recyclable?

Yes, although it may take some effort on your part.

Polystyrene is recyclable throughout its life cycle. In production, all manufacturing waste can be reprocessed for new products.

Since yellow recycling bins are out of the question, take your polystyrene foam to specialised recycling drop-off points. Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) has set up a nationwide network of recycling centres where you can buy and recycle EPS:

Recycled EPS will be given a new life in the form of outdoor furniture, decking, stationery products, synthetic timber, and many more!


See? Proper disposal of polystyrene foam isn’t as difficult as it seems, and even if it becomes a hassle, Paul’s Rubbish Removal is always ready to assist you every step of the way! 

So what are you waiting for? Let’s do our bit for the environment by ensuring we throw out polystyrene foam in the right bin or recycle!

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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