How to reduce and eliminate polystyrene waste from your business 

Rohan Mathew

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Polystyrene, commonly referred to as EPS foam, is a versatile type of plastic that is deployed to manufacture various consumer products, including but not limited to packaging sheets, corner/edge protection, profiles, strips, and pads.  Tons of EPS are collected every day, but not all polystyrene is recycled. As a matter of fact, roughly 80% of Styrofoam ends up in the landfill, with drastic effects. It doesn’t degrade or break down over time, so it doesn’t belong there. The increasing volume of waste is a serious concern for the environment, as well as for humans. Some of the outcomes of waste overflowing include air pollution, contaminated water surfaces, and public nuisance. 

The unique qualities of polystyrene have led to it being used in business operations. It’s low-cost, lightweight in nature, has insulating properties, not to say that it’s durable. There is potential for Styrofoam recycling yet, unfortunately, there’s a misguided and ongoing belief that it can’t be recycling. The result is that recycling centers are robbed of much-needed EPS raw materials. The depletion of natural resources and waste generation can no longer be ignored as landfills keep growing and land availability is considerably reduced. Your company should say bye to Styrofoam. You’ll thrive after eliminating polystyrene from your business. 

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Eliminate polystyrene waste at the source 

There’s a reason why polystyrene is referred to as the public enemy no. 6. It can persist in the environment for more than a couple of decades since it’s not biodegradable. Even if Styrofoam is slow to break down chemically, it does fragment into small pieces, endangering the lives of animals that ingest it. The good news is that there are alternatives to using EPS. Soapstock waste from agriculture is one example. This byproduct is obtained by refining soybean and other oils. It can successfully replace Styrofoam when it comes to protecting packages. In case you didn’t already know, there are Styrofoam bans in some parts of the world, including San Francisco and New York State. 

Researchers at the Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology discovered that it’s possible to make a shock-absorbing material from wood. The idea is that sustainable alternatives can be used instead of polystyrene. If you find that there’s waste in your business, streamline your operations to minimize and even eliminate it for good. Collaborate with suppliers that offer green alternatives rather than EPS. To be more precise, make sure that your suppliers are aligned with your business’ sustainability goals. Some companies list their packaging materials on their websites, so you know who you’re doing business with. It’s important to make smart decisions and set standards early in the process. If that’s not possible, it’s better late than never. 

Reduce the impact of polystyrene waste on the environment and make money 

Businesses, whether big or small, generate polystyrene waste. Styrofoam takes up a lot of space and doesn’t offer too much value as a resource. This explains why some companies find it uneconomical to recycle. Nonetheless, there are plenty of recycling companies that accept EPS. The types of Styrofoam that can be recycled are packaging balls, seating and insulation in cars, and box packaging. Polystyrene recycling services are offered to encourage people to do the right thing and ensure that it doesn’t end up in the overflowing landfills. 

If your company tends to send EPS to the landfill, along with the other waste, it’s an unwise thing to do. That’s because a great many industries rely on this plastic, such as food processing, white goods retailing, and construction. It’s advisable to practice effective segregation of waste, which ensures that fewer recyclable materials go to the landfill. There’s money to be made when it comes down to recycling Styrofoam. Existing garbage can be transformed into useful byproducts that can be sold for a profit. So, recycle all that you can. 

Optimize your waste management with a waste compactor 

Compacting can help transform EPS into a revenue stream. With the help of a machine designed for polystyrene compacting, waste is compressed so that more of it can be stored in the same place. If your business produces a significant amount of Styrofoam, then the cost of investing in specialty equipment is completely justified. If you’re a distribution center, warehouse, or manufacturing plant, you can make money from EPS waste. A compactor reduces waste management costs, which translates into better outcomes for the business. It allows you to reduce fuel costs, optimize resources, and create more accurate forecast revenues. 

EPS can take up a substantial amount of space in waste bins, which is why it needs to be compacted, stacked onto pallets, and returned to the central distribution center. The compactor is very easy to operate and employ, even if you’re a beginner. All you have to do is to place the polystyrene waste items into the receptacle and turn on the compactor. Your company will become more efficient in terms of managing waste and your efforts to protect the environment won’t go unnoticed. There are various machines suited for your unique situation, so you can find something appropriate. 

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Final considerations 

All in all, polystyrene is detrimental to the planet and sustained effort is needed to minimize the damage caused by this material. Due to the fact that Styrofoam is commonplace, we rarely stop to think about the fact that it does more harm than good. The years of misinformation about the harmful effects of EPS coupled with the years of waste produced have been accumulating. Polystyrene should be banned in all shapes and sizes. Regrettably, only a handful of cities have taken action in this sense. Until all Styrofoam is removed, it’s essential to reduce waste to conserve space in the landfill and reduce the need to build more landfills. 

Advancements in technology have allowed recyclers to tackle polystyrene waste and generate brand new material. The contamination is taken away in the process, so it doesn’t matter if the EPS is dirty. Finally yet importantly, we can reduce our dependence on Styrofoam. We can make the transition towards the circular economy, where resources are constantly reused and recycled instead of extracting new ones. Not only does it reduce the pressure on the environment but also boosts economic growth.