Cape Town, 27 September 2017.
What is white, light, considered of high value and, although made up almost entirely of air, is in very high demand? If you guessed polystyrene, you’d be 100 % correct!
The Polystyrene Association of South Africa has teamed up with Wildlands in Durban and Rhino Greenbuilding in Port Elizabeth to collect, process and supply post-consumer and industrial recycled polystyrene products to manufacturers - ultimately offering a solution that will prevent this valuable resource from ending up in these two cities’ landfill sites.
“Expanded polystyrene is one of South Africa’s most commonly used materials relied upon by canteens and spaza shops owners and restauranteurs to keep their food or beverages hot or cold, as well as by retailersto protect high value items such as televisions or fridges owing to the material’s excellent insulation properties,” explains Adri Spangenberg, Director of the Polystyrene Association of South Africa.
Polystyrene is widely used by supermarkets to transport and pack their perishable food products such as meat, fruit and vegetables owing to the fact that polystyrene offers excellent insulation properties, extends the shelf life of food and protects items against breakage.
“The wonderful thing about polystyrene is that the material consists of 96% air – making it incredibly lightweight. This has a significant impact on carbon emissions during transportation, but also unfortunately causes it to be easily blown away by wind where it becomes visible litter found on beaches or along roadsides,” Adri says.
Few people are aware that used polystyrene is a valuable resource that is readily recycled in South Africa.The collected polystyrene is put through an Ingot machine that transforms into a material used by recyclers for the manufacture of stationery, hangers, picture frames, cornices and skirtings. It is even mixed with a special cement mixture for use in building and construction.
“Polystyrene recycling has grown year-on-year to more than 4 200 tonnes last year, saving 162 350 000 litres of landfill space thanks to their various recycling projects. This is equivalent to 65 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with polystyrene that was diverted from landfill, that at the same time helped to create more than 48 000 jobs in the plastics recycling industry,” Adri elaborates
Commenting on this exciting development, say Kaveer Singh of Wildlands and Jarred van Niekerk of Rhino Greenbuilding:“We are very excited to become part of this project that will not only divert a valuable item away from landfill, but also help to create jobs and support a growing industry”.
Business and residents in Port Elizabeth are encouraged to take their clean, white polystyrene to their depot situated15 Voyle Street in Sydenham, while Wildlands readily accepts white and coloured polystyrene that is dropped off at its Recycling Depot situated in Cato Manor in the SPCA Excess Road.
“Every bit counts, and we are asking residents to please make sure that their material is cleaned and void of any left-over food, bones etc.We are working tirelessly to raise awareness about the value of recycled polystyrene amd ensure that recycling remains at the top of everybody’s environmental agenda. To this end, we hope to establish even more collection and recycling depots in and around Durban and PE in the near future,” she concludes.