Polystyrene is definitely not safe in landfill.
Have you ever been annoyed with the enormous amount of packaging that comes with your brand new PC, printer or monitor when opening up them? You almost always end up with more packaging than product. Plastic bags, cardboard, boxes within boxes and the worst of them all, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS).
Most times the cardboard box can be re-used, perhaps to put your old IT equipment into when sending it off to be properly disposed by your trusty IT disposal vendor, but what to do with the rest?
EPS becomes a waste material that companies must pay to dispose of. Most of the time, it ends up in the general waste skip bin. Large, bulky pieces of polystyrene can take up a significant amount of space in a waste skip which means the skip needs to be emptied more often –resulting in higher costs.
With sustainable practices fast becoming part of the decision criteria for purchasing new IT products, manufacturers are making efforts to innovate and design “greener” packaging. Whether it be reducing the size of the box so as to maximize space on shelves or in the truck when transporting their products around, or using environmentally friendly materials and fillers such as the corn starch pellets you sometimes see, which are non-toxic and 100% biodegradable. Another popular filler is the air pocket design, which is made up of sections of air-filled “pillows” which cushion your product and protect it from damage in transit. When popped, the cushions leave a tiny plastic bag which in most cases can be recycled.
So, why there is so much polystyrene?
There may be an explanation for why new products still arrive with more polystyrene than equipment, but the problem is that product manufacturers, although contributing to the problem, rarely provide a solution for recycling of polystyrene. More often than not, Polystyrene ends up in landfill, where it will stay for centuries.
Proper recycling of polystyrene is often difficult and expensive. The size of the product compared to its weight means that it takes up more valuable space in the truck, and hence transport costs increase. There are very few waste disposal companies that can properly recycle the product. By combining packaging recycling and IT Disposal in the same collection, costs to transport and dispose polystyrene are significantly reduced.