Expanded polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam) includes meat trays, coffee cups and foam packaging and is identified by the number 6 in the plastic idenification code on the bottom of the container.
Expanded polystyrene is not compostable or recyclable!
For this reason it contaminates other compostable materials in your green bin. It also contaminates recyclable materials in your yellow lid recycling as it breaks up into many small pieces. Due to its light weight, it also gets caught up in the paper/cardboard stream, causing contamination.
Polystyrene is also a very problematic litter item as it is light weight, breaks up easily and is readily dispersed by the wind and in water. It can be mistaken for food by seabirds and animals which can prove fatal. It also takes more than 500 years to degrade, so will remain in the environment for a very long time.
Which bin? Please place polystyrene foam into the general waste to landfill bin.
5 ways to Avoid or Reduce using Polystyrene:
1) Avoid meat, fruit and vegetables packaged on foam trays:
Purchase your meat from the butcher or choose meat that is packaged with a rigid plastic tray instead. Rigid plastic trays can then be rinsed and recycled.
Most fruit and vegetables really don’t need to be packaged on a tray and wrapped in plastic. This just creates unnecessary waste! Choose loose, seasonal fruit and vegetables and use a re-usable produce bag such as Rethink fresh produce bags, Onya Reusable Mesh Produce Bags or ChicoBag. You can also re-use the plastic barrier bags provided at the shop over and over again.
2) Choose re-usable instead of disposable:
Don’t buy disposable polystyrene cups, plates or bowls for parties, instead use re-usable dishware when you can or choose ecofriendly alternatives made from paper, bamboo or compostable corn starch (PLA) when you can’t. .
Purchase a re-useable coffee cup. Some café’s offer a discount for using your own cup.
3) Avoid using polystyrene takeaway containers:
Before asking for takeaway check that the containers provided aren’t polystyrene. If so, ask the restaurant if they can use compostable or recyclable containers instead, or bring your own re-usable glass or stainless steel container.
4) Avoid purchasing items with polystyrene packaging:
When purchasing home appliances, ask if the items are packaged in moulded polystyrene or packing peanuts. If so, ask if there are alternative brands that use moulded cardboard instead, as the cardboard can be recycled. If there isn’t an alternative, you can ask the store to take back the polystyrene packaging for recycling as they may recycle it through specialised polystyrene recycler (usually only available for commercial quantities and not for individual households).
5) Purchase products made from recycled or natural fibres:
Polystyrene is also found in insulation and carpet underlay. If you are building or renovating your home purchase products that are made from recycled or natural fibres eg. some insulation is made from recycled paper pulp.
Clean (ie no sticky tape, labels, dirt etc), white, rigid polystyrene packaging foam from electrical goods, furniture, homewares and toys can be recycled through the following options (charges may apply):
1. Electronics Recycling Australia, 301 Grand Junction Road Ottoway (drop off weekdays 8am-4pm only)
2. NAWMA's Resource Recovery Centre, gate 3 Bellchambers Road, Edinburgh North (drop off any day of the week)
3. Coolfoam, 25 Barfield Crescent, Edinburgh North (drop off weekdays 8am-3pm only)
4. Heathfield Resource Recovery Centre, 32 Scott Creek Road, Scott Creek (drop off 7 days per week 9am-4pm)
5. All Axis, 9 Maxwell Road Pooraka (drop off Monday - Friday 7am-5pm)
6. Return it to the store where you purchased the goods from eg. Harvey Norman, Good Guys, Bunnings etc and ask them to recycle the packaging. They are likely to have a compactor for the polystyrene at their premises and will then send this off for recycling as it is much cheaper to recycle it than pay for a landfill skip for it. It also encourages these retailers to put pressure back on their suppliers to choose more sustainable and easily recyclable packaging such as moulded cardboard instead.
Large pieces of packaging foam: If dropping it off for recycling isn't an option for you, then please place it in the general waste to landfill bin (blue or red lid).
Note: To prevent polystyrene from becoming lodged and stuck inside the bin, blocking materials from being emptied, please ensure that the polystyrene is placed inside of a plastic bag and then broken up into small pieces. Make sure the bag is tied at the top to prevent pieces from falling out and expel any air inside of the bag before sealing it.