Can you recycle polystyrene?
Polystyrene’s versatility is one reason it is among the most common types of plastic. From takeaway food trays through to a packaging material, it has dozens of uses. Like many plastics, however, it is slow to biodegrade.
While that is a useful attribute in terms of practicality, it makes it more important to dispose of used polystyrene correctly. Fortunately, it is recyclable.
The process is not straightforward, though and for now at least, the UK doesn’t have sufficient infrastructure to do it on a large – or local – scale.
Can you put polystyrene or styrofoam in the recycling bin?
Polystyrene isn’t recyclable on regular kerbside collections. Styrofoam is an extruded polystyrene foam, and as such, isn’t picked up, either.
This is in part because of a lack of the required infrastructure. It is both expensive and complex logistically to build polystyrene compacting machinery. There is also the challenge posed by gathering it in large enough quantities.
The advice from Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM), which works together with local councils in Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, and Trafford to encourage residents and businesses to manage their waste responsibly, is to put polystyrene in the general waste bin.
Some local authorities elsewhere in the country accept polystyrene packaging for collection, although it is unlikely to be recycled.
To find out what is recyclable in your area, and where to take it, visit recyclenow.com – the Government-funded national recycling campaign for England – and enter your postcode into the Recycling Locator.