Polystyrene (EPS, styrofoam) is an excellent packaging material due to its insulating and protective properties. Unfortunately, once goods are delivered and opened polystyrene then becomes a waste material that companies must pay to dispose of.
Large, bulky pieces of polystyrene can take up significant space in a waste skip which means the skip becomes full more quickly and therefore needs to be emptied more often – and more cost.
It is conservatively estimated that hundreds of thousands of tons of waste polystyrene is produced and sent to landfill on an annual basis. This material is very lightweight compared to its volume so it is not hard to imagine how much precious landfill space is filled with tons and tons of polystyrene.
Problems disposing of Polystyrene (styrofoam)
The disposal of polystyrene waste is a major problem for many sectors of industry because the volume to weight ratio of the material is unfavourable for economic transportation after use. In many applications polystyrene is the best packaging material to use as it can reduce the risk of damage to expensive electronic items and can preserve and protect food such as fish far better than many alternative packaging materials. Despite the suitability of polystyrene for a wide variety of applications, organisations are faced with the growing problem of finding alternative methods of disposing of large volumes of waste packaging. Disposing of Polystyrene has the following drawbacks:
- Boxes and packaging can take up large volumes of storage space prior to removal.
- Fish/Meat packaging is contaminated with blood, fluids etc and so can be a health hazard and attract vermin when in storage prior to removal.
- Skip hire or running costs of disposal trucks are very high.
- Because boxes and packaging take up a lot of space transport lorries or skips are filled very quickly.
- High landfill charges make disposal expensive and bad for the environment
Compaction of EPS: almost solves the problem – but not quite
Typical compaction rates when using standard EPS compaction equipment are approximately only one third which means that storing the compacted Polystyrene is still an issue. Hydraulic compactors also do not deal with Polystyrene contaminated with blood, organic matter or other similar materials and liquids. There are several other drawbacks of standard compaction methods :
- Hydraulic compactors are generally slow and noisy and labour intensive.
- Plastic has 'memory' and this can induce blockages, particularly if material is wet.
- Hydraulic compactors normally require a full-time operator.
- The degree of compaction is limited and the compacted material can create dust and other airborne or surface litter pollution.
- Expensive moving parts inside the compactor can become damaged if foreign objects are accidentally put into the machine.
Styromelt: the solution that ticks all the boxes
The Styromelt machine essentially melts polystyrene (styrofoam) to form a dense block of material that is reduced in volume by over 95% of the original material. So a 2 cubic metre load of polystyrene comes out of the machine as a small block approximately 90cm x 25cm x 5cm. The block can be stored then sold to recycling companies who then turn it into fuels such as diesel or new products such as garden furniture.
The densified blocks are sterile, easy to handle and can be stored indefinitely. This means that several loads can be put through the machine over time until sufficient quantities have been produced for either sale or disposal.
Further benefits are:
- Processed blocks are recyclable as product or fuel and can actually be sold to recyclers
- Greater compaction rate - up to 10 times greater than hydraulic compaction
- In-situ sterilisation of plastic material means the product can be stored indefinitely
- Ability to deal with contaminants such as blood, organic matter, metal, stone and glass without damage or failure
- Thermal compaction is a batch process and incurs no energy costs until the machine is full. The machine could be described as an 'electric skip'
- Process is virtually silent running
- Machinery can be operated with very few skills
- Machinery occupies a small footprint, ideally suited for retrofitting in supermarket or municipal areas.
- The machine is weatherproofed for outside use and is IP56 rated
Click here to view the Styromelt recycling system
It pays to melt
Running costs of typically less than $1.50 per hour are vastly offset by reduced waste management costs and the potential sale of the end product.
Landfill volume is reduced by not disposing of polystyrene (styrofoam) so using a Styromelt can also be seen as good for the environment.
Reducing (or even eliminating) the number of journeys waste disposal trucks make is also better for the environment as it reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions.
For more information please call us or use the IndustrySearch enquiry box and we can contact you directly.