Recycling Polystyrene from Building Sites

The use of expanded polystyrene in building has been around for many years due to its qualities as a strong, durable and lightweight material with excellent thermal properties – and it is also great for recycling.

Unlike many other building products, expanded polystyrene can be recycled countless times without losing quality. As a result, we are now seeing a prevalence of recycled content in the polystyrene products we use, which means a more positive environmental impact due to less wastage.

Advances in technology in manufacturing have helped increase the possible uses for expanded polystyrene and its potential for recycling. Building products now account for nearly three quarters of the 8500 or so tonnes of expanded polystyrene manufactured in New Zealand annually, which is primarily made up of thermal insulation, and a substitute for concrete called “waffle pods”. In the case of pods, the recycled content can be as much as 50%. EPSSideBar2

Throughout New Zealand, customers can benefit from a recycling service offered by expanded polystyrene manufacturers who are members of Plastics New Zealand. Customers receive bags to collect their clean offcuts at their building sites, and a collection service. The “waste” is then reprocessed and reused in other products, rather than going to landfill. In providing this service, manufacturers demonstrate their commitment to the industry’s waste minimisation initiative, and customers avoid the need to manage and store a material that, if not handled appropriately, can end up causing problems such as litter.

The recycling initiative is available in all major New Zealand cities, however tradespeople who are using polystyrene products need to be proactive when dealing with their waste in order to benefit. The point is: why pay landfill fees when manufacturers offer a service that benefits customers and the environment.

Plastics NZ Business Manager Ken Sowman says: “All parties have an important role to ensure these schemes are a success – reducing litter on building sites and reducing waste going to landfill.

“However,” Ken adds, “builders can also take advantage of having their material cut to specific size to avoid creating waste offcuts in the first place.”

For further information about getting your polystyrene waste collected,

For more information please discuss with our EPS Manufacturing Member Companies involved in this inititative:

Barnes Plastics Ltd
Bondor Ltd
Expol Ltd (Including Long Industries and Long Plastics Ltd)
EPS Foam Ltd
Hope Moulded Polystrene
Koolfoam Ltd
Long Panel Ltd
Styrobeck Ltd

To download the Polystyrene on Building Sites Sheet as a pdf click here 

Mark Mischefski Expol and bale. Photo Simon Wilkinson Feb 17


Mike and Matt both manage concrete floor laying companies. Both their companies are using and benefitting from the recycling service their waffle pod manufacturers offer, and helping to maintain litter-free building sites.

“Handling polystyrene on building sites to avoid problems is ‘just good management’” says Matt. “We don’t get the product until we’re ready to use it, and we very rarely have problems.

“For clients, dealing with waste that’s light and bulky is difficult. The service we get makes removal easy, and the use of what’s not used is great. It’s also a great saving for us.”

For Mike, the ease and the savings make getting a service a big plus. “I’m a very happy customer,” he says. “We order about 5000 pods a month, and we get a collection almost every day for the product we don’t use. This saves us about $400 a week that we’d have to pay if the waste went to landfill.”



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