In our goal to reach zero waste, one concern is how to recycle plastic, in particular polystyrene.

Polystyrene is a material from petrochemicals. It is obtained through a polymerization process or by mixing gas and crystal. Polystyrene has become an indispensable material for factories and daily life, as it is frequently used to protect products. Moreover, although few consumers in Minnesota are aware of it, this material is also found in certain foods such as: strawberries, beans or beer. It is therefore entirely possible to recycle it for possible reuse.

Recycling polystyrene

Currently, the state of Minnesota continues to raise awareness among the population through sorting posters and pictograms which are proving effective. On the business side, they are also starting to schedule awareness training for their staff on the benefits of recycling polystyrene.

Here are the steps:

1st step: collecting the boxes

As its name suggests, this is the time to collect all household polystyrene waste.

2nd step: sending to a recycling center

This step consists of repatriating the waste to the factories using recycling bins and dumpster rentals. If the quantity of junk is too large, it is possible to use a densification press. There are all types and sizes on the market ranging from €100 to €10,000, depending on performance, in order to meet the needs of individuals and professionals.

3rd step: sorting

Now is the time to classify polystyrene based on its purity and quality. Please note that before being crushed, polystyrene is dissolved.

4th step: transformation

In order to give it a second life, polystyrene is first transformed into balls before re-entering the market as a material for manufacturing packaging, filling cushions, or even lightweight concrete. In the case of extruded polystyrene (a variant of polystyrene), this material is intended to become an insulating plate in the building.

Polystyrene recovery methods

According to Disposal St Paul Dumpster Rental HQ, a specialist in waste collection and recycling in xxx, there are 2 methods of recovering polystyrene:

Chemical recovery

This waste management method consists of destroying the polymer contained in the polystyrene in order to recover a few molecules of monomers or oligomers. Anything recovered from this chemical destruction will be synthesized again for reuse.

On the other hand, if a mixture of hydrocarbons is revealed instead of monomer, the latter must be treated using petrochemical techniques in order to find “classic” monomers. Unfortunately, chemical recovery is not an ecological solution, because it destroys the polymer chain.

Good to know: when the polymer is sufficiently heated – in the absence of oxygen – it decomposes and gives rise to various types of monomers and polymers. But the by-products obtained will be more difficult to assimilate into naphtha and will therefore become complex to handle.

Energy recovery

If oil has been used as fuel for decades, burning polystyrene allows you to find the same properties. Although the energy recovery of this material is not the best solution, it is still practical and economical for many families, especially since this type of recovery has contributed to the development of certain countries.

If the rudimentary incineration of the old days did not aim to revalorize polystyrene as energy, but simply to reduce its quantity, current energy revalorization requires equipment and technical knowledge. This is why machines are specially designed to transform the inherent calorific value of polystyrene into energy residual materials.