Is Polystyrene Recyclable? How does it work? Is it Important to Recycle Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a versatile material utilized in producing different consumer goods. Because it is a rigid plastic, it is often used to produce items that call for transparency, like laboratory gear or food packaging.

Polystyrene may also be processed into a foam material. This can be used extensively in manufacturing various products, including home and appliance insulation, surfboards, automobile parts, and other items.

Given its wide variety of use in our day-to-day lives, there comes the concern regarding polystyrene disposal. Is polystyrene recyclable? How does its recycling work? Is it harmful to the environment?

Can I Recycle Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is not recycled to the same extent as many other types of plastic, despite being one of the most extensively used in cups, packaging, and packing materials. 

However, this does not rule out the possibility of recycling polystyrene. In fact, private recycling firms are filling the slack with their services and recycling facilities, given that many consumers and businesses are advocating for expanding the polystyrene recycling infrastructure.

Hence, is polystyrene recyclable? The simple answer is yes – recycling polystyrene is possible and achievable. In most cases, polystyrene recycling via the curbside collection system is impossible. It is because most recycling facilities will not take it in as recyclable material.

To put it another way, if you want to reuse this plastic, you will need to buy more advanced processing tools. Not only that, but most centers don’t have easy access to it. You will have to put in a lot of work and look for a recycling center that will take it in order to recycle it.

Types of Polystyrene That Can be Recycled

The three primary varieties of polystyrene are Polystyrene (PS), expanded polystyrene (EPS), and extruded polystyrene (XPS). They can all be recycled, but the EPS foam, which is the least dense kind of polystyrene foam, is the one that is recycled the most often. 

The material known as XPS, or extruded polystyrene, may also be recycled. However, it is more difficult to break it down into reusable polystyrene since it has a more robust cell structure than EPS; yet, recycling it by compacting it is possible.

How is Polystyrene Recycled?

Granulation, compacting, and densifying are the typical processes used throughout the recycling process. The following is how they function:


A piece of equipment known as a granulator can process polystyrene in its lower-density forms. This machine disassembles it down to the minute beads that make up its components, which are then combined with granules of wasted polystyrene. 

In these particular instances, the material retains its desirable attributes, including its strength, insulating capabilities, and others. After going through the granulation process, recycled expanded polystyrene has all the same advantages as brand-new polystyrene.


To create polystyrene in denser forms, the material must first be compacted in a compactor machine. The material that was produced is a highly thick and substantial bale of pure polystyrene. These bales are put through a machine that shreds them into fresh general-purpose polystyrene pallets, and then stored away.


There are also additional techniques of recycling that are used somewhat less often. 

For example, expanded polystyrene may be put through a device known as a foam densifier to make it denser. After the foam has been shredded, this machine subjects it to heat and pressure, which melts it down into a paste. 

The paste is then cooled down into a solid polystyrene block, and all the air is extracted from the block. After compacting, the polystyrene blocks may be shredded into new multi-purpose polystyrene pallets. 

Is it Challenging to Recycle Polystyrene?

Unfortunately, you cannot simply put polystyrene-made products in a compostable bin. At the moment, it is hard to recycle Polystyrene on a large scale. This is in part because many types of Polystyrene have a low density.

Granulation can be expensive, and it can also be expensive to move pallets that have been packed down because of how heavy they are.

Polystyrene is often not completely recycled because it needs to be free of impurities before it can be recycled. Polystyrene is often used for packaging food and for other similar purposes.

In polystyrene recycling, Sydney also experiences this challenge, just like other cities and countries. This is a hurdle in addition to the financial burden of recycling.

Is it Significant to Recycle Polystyrene?

Is polystyrene recyclable? Yes. Is it necessary to recycle polystyrene? Also yes. 

It is essential to recycle polystyrene due to the potential impact that it may have on the environment, in addition to the fact that it can be extensively utilized in the production of newer polystyrene packaging, furniture, and a great deal more. For these reasons, recycling polystyrene is essential.

Polystyrene is entirely non-biodegradable. Because of the manner that current landfills are built, there is very little chance that garbage will biodegrade over time.

In spite of this, less dense types of polystyrene are more likely to break down over time into smaller particles. These particles may then make their way into the water, where they pose a persistent threat to aquatic life by obstructing the digestive systems of organisms as they consume them.

Additionally, polystyrene that has been recycled can serve a variety of functions, including warehousing, shipping, and others. They are particularly helpful for businesses with high sanitary requirements, such as food manufacturing and pharmaceutical facilities, which are examples of these types of environments. 

EPS may be shredded down to its component beads, which can be immediately reused in producing new EPS items like toys, cups,  refrigerator trays, and more. 

Furthermore, repurposed polystyrene plastic furniture is becoming an increasingly popular usage. It is often used because it is more affordable compared to others and lasts a very long time. It is possible to construct roof tiles, pots for plants, fence panels, plant pots, and traffic cones out of the same pellets that are used in this furniture. 

These pellets have a growing number of applications, which suggests that their scope of usage may increase in the years to come.

Final Thoughts

Polystyrene is one of those materials for which it is impossible to estimate how long it will take to decompose. In general, the biodegradation process for many polymers might take a very long time.

Because of this, recycling polystyrene is an integral part of its usage to protect our environment. Despite the challenges and constraints of doing such, it should be a primary priority to not just dispose of this material but also to continue being purposeful in our everyday items and activities. 

Ultimately, as a user, be part of the solution! You may use ecobins dedicated to separating recyclable polystyrene-made items and take them to a recycling facility. Should you need assistance on this matter, feel free to contact us!

Salman Ahmad
I am Salman Ahmad an Engineer by choice, Blogger, YouTuber, and an Entrepreneur by passion. I love technology in my day to day life and loves writing Tech Articles on Latest Technology, Cyber Security, Internet Security, SEO and Digital Marketing. Blogging is my passion and I am super active on my social media accounts. You can connect with me on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter @TechloverSAhmad.

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