Classic polystyrene can be recycled but not as part of your household recycling waste. In fact, polystyrene recycling is rare in the UK and will usually require the polystyrene to be taken to a specialist recycling facility if it is to be recycled. The current advice is to place polystyrene in your general waste bin, but there are other options if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution.
What is polystyrene?
Polystyrene is a versatile plastic whose light weight makes it ideal for a variety of uses, most notably takeaway food trays and packaging material.
Polystyrene is often conflated with styrofoam, but styrofoam is in fact a commercial brand of polystyrene that comes in a foam form. All styrofoam is polystyrene, but not all polystyrene is styrofoam.
Why isn’t polystyrene commonly recycled?
The infrastructure required to successfully recycle polystyrene simply isn’t available in most areas of the UK. The machinery is expensive and complex to build, and the size and weight of polystyrene makes it difficult to collect in large enough quantities to justify building these machines.
However, a more recent polystyrene called ‘expanded polystyrene’ is challenging the way polystyrene is recycled. While classic polystyrene remains a logistical challenge to recycle, expanded polystyrene is much easier and can be recycled in many more areas across the UK. In fact, around 100 tonnes of expanded polystyrene is recycled every month in the UK.
Check with your local council to determine whether you can recycle your polystyrene. If you’re unable to recycle your polystyrene via your local recycling centre but don’t want to send it to landfill, you still have other options.
How can I dispose of polystyrene?
If you mix your polystyrene in with your other plastics, there is a good chance that it will not be recycled.
The polystyrene will need to be recycled at a specialist recycling facility or taken in by a retailer who is willing to reuse the polystyrene for their own packaging.
Another option is to dispose of your polystyrene in a skip operated by a skip provider that recycles the collected waste.
Order a skip with Hinton’s Waste to dispose of your waste, including polystyrene. We’ll remove your skip from your property, sort through your waste and recycle it at our specialist recycling facility. We recycle at least 90% of the waste we collect and can recycle a greater variety of materials than offered by most local councils.