Category Cases


EPS in landfills

Facts about EPS in Landfills

Will EPS Degrade in Landfills?

EPS products do not degrade in landfills. However it may surprise you that the commonly known “degradable” matrials like paper even food waste do not degrade in most landfills neither. How come? Actually, there are three types of landfill fields nowadays including anaerobic bioreactor landfill, aerobic landfill and semi-aerobic landfill. The most popular landfill across the world is the first kind which is easier to build and maintain. But the low expense comes at the cost of some trade-offs. One of the problem it brings is that air is deprived in these landfills which makes degradation harder for not only nondegradable materials like EPS but also degradable materials like paper.

Current situation of EPS in Landfills

It is reported that the largest component in landfills is paper (50%) while plastic constitute about 10% of the waste. In Europe, EPS products are completely banned from landfills. It is the original manufacturer who is responsible for the management of EPS waste. The land available for landfill is very limited compared to the rapid increasing amount of waste. I One of the reason for countries banned it from landfills should be that EPS is made light weighted which means its weight-volume ratio is very small. By using EPS compactors its weight can be up to 90 times bigger with the same volume. This should be benificial for the landfilling or recycling of EPS.

Case Study: Use Foam Compactor in a Lounge Factory

What did they do?

Compress and reuse waste

• Pillows and some parts of the lounges are now made from fabrics and foam left over from other parts of the manufacturing process.
• A foam compactor have been installed to reduce the volume of waste needing to be stored and transported for recycling or disposal.
• Plastic, cardboard and timber packaging is reused or recycled.

Redesign products

• Foam is purchased cut to size, reducing the volume of offcuts.
• Timber frames have been redesigned so that the raw material is used more efficiently.

Why did they do it?

Waste was the starting point. The cost of waste disposal was significant enough to prompt the company to rethink manufacturing processes.

What are the outcomes?

Material costs have reduced because the new product designs use raw materials more efficiently.
Overall the volume of waste sent to landfill has reduced by 50%, and the cost of waste disposal has been cut by 70% due to changes in waste handling charges.

What were the costs and savings?

The foam compactor cost $6,000 to install. Combined with more efficient product design, the company is saving $180,000 per year. Overall, the payback period was less than six months.

Case Study: EPS reuse in Barwon

The Barwon Regional Waste Management Group in Victoria’s southwest has taken advantage of a unique recycling process to reduce with its expanded polystyrene waste (EPS).

Enzo Bruscella, executive officer of Barwon Regional Waste Management Group said that EPS was a uniquely challenging waste stream. “EPS is very lightweight, bulky and this makes it difficult to recycle. It causes big problems for landfill operators.”

In order to deal with the problem the group teamed up with two local businesses. Geelong Disabled People Industries provided pickup, a collection point and shredding of the EPS.  Once it was processed they passed it along to Newtown Concrete Products – who used it as an aggregate to when making concrete pavers.

John Armstrong, the proprietor of Newtown Concrete Products said that the EPS blended concrete pavers were a superior product to standard pavers. “We used to lose 15% on breakages, now we’re down to 1%,” he said. “When we sell it to the stores they love it because one bloke can lift it instead of two blokes.”

Walmart implemented a closed-loop EPS recycling plan

Just after the launch of the EPS Sustainability Toolkit, Walmart implemented a closed-loop EPS recycling plan. They piloted the program in a Las Vegas distribution center, then expanded it to Texas within a few months. The collected material is being used to create recycled picture frames, which will in turn be sold exclusively in U.S. Walmart stores. In

picture frame made by recycled EPS

picture frame

addition, Walmart has expressed interest in distributing the EPS Packaging Insert to its suppliers that use EPS. These actions show huge potential with Walmart.