Expanded polystryene recycler aims to double Asian exports

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 4, 2013 1:35 pm ET
Updated: April 4, 2013 1:37 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Recycling

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — An Australian expanded polystyrene recycler can double exports to China and South Korea if its owner can convince more retailers to hand over EPS waste.

Polystyrene Recycling Queensland, a unit of Brisbane-based Global Interests Pty. Ltd., operates five granulators at electrical goods retail outlets in Queensland and northern New South Wales, which shrink waste EPS volume by 66 percent. The granules are transported to PRQ’s compacting plant, nine miles south of Brisbane’s central business district, where they are compacted into recyclable EPS logs and shipped to Asia.

Leo Sines, PRQ owner and managing director,  said PRQ ships a container of EPS logs weighing up to 17 tons each week to Chinese and Korean manufacturers. Those manufacturers process it into various products, including photo frame molds, coat hangers, synthetic timbers, and spoons and cutlery.

“We have forged a strong secondary reuse export market in China; right now Asia will buy every kilo I’ve got,” Sines said. He has not found any Australian manufacturers that will manufacture second-use EPS products.

PRQ has been shipping EPS waste to China for more than a decade. “Initially, we sent one container every two months. It has gradually grown,” Sines said.

He could double PRQ’s EPS exports, if more organizations recycled EPS waste packaging. Sines said research shows about 75 percent of electrical goods stores’ waste is EPS, but it is difficult to convince retailers to recycle.

“They just think waste is a cost of doing business.” He estimates PRQ recycles only 2-3 percent of Australian electrical appliance retailers’ EPS.

PRQ was launched after Australian EPS manufacturers identified a significant waste disposal problem and, in 1992, established an industry group called Recycling Expanded Polystyrene Australia to manage the problem. “The industry knew polystyrene could be recycled, but it wasn’t,” Sines said.

That industry group, now called Expanded Polystyrene Australia, established recycling centers and a national collection network in most capital cities. PRQ was its Queensland recycling and collection center.

Sines initially managed PRQ, but later bought it from Expanded Polystyrene Australia. It is now a unit of his company, Global Interests Pty. Ltd., which trades as Carton Warehouse. Carton sells new and used packaging, mainly for the fruit and vegetable industry, including polystyrene boxes and plastic pallets.

PRQ, in partnership with Queensland’s government, developed a prototype granulator in 2008 to help businesses condense EPS scrap. The five granulators are at the Good Guys Discount Warehouses (Australia) Pty. Ltd. stores. Melbourne-based Good Guys is a chain of almost 100 electrical appliance retail stores across Australia and New Zealand.

PRQ visits the stores twice a week to collect the granulated, bagged EPS waste. Sines estimates PRQ collects 131 square feet per store each time.

PRQ also has a drop-off center and collects EPS from fruit and vegetable and seafood retailers and pharmacies.

The company’s plant recycles 882,000 to 1.1 million pounds a year. “We have so far diverted more than 10.5 million cubic feet of EPS from landfill, but we can take it all,” Sines said.

He said the state of Queensland alone generates more than 24 million pounds annually. “While about half this material is used for long-term building and construction, the remaining mass will ultimately go to landfill if it doesn’t reach our chippers first,” he said.


Comments

Expanded polystryene recycler aims to double Asian exports

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 4, 2013 1:35 pm ET
Updated: April 4, 2013 1:37 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Dutch company launching $100 million PP, PE recycling plant

April 18, 2014 10:42 am ET

Quality Circular Polymers is building a new plastics recycling operation in Geleen, the Netherlands' Chemelot industrial chemical site, with a...    More

EU moving closer to rules that will reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent

April 17, 2014 10:54 am ET

European Union countries could have to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by at least 80 percent by 2019 under draft rules backed by the...    More

With European Parliament vote looming, official urges bag restriction

April 16, 2014 9:56 am ET

Janez Potocnik, Europe's commissioner for the environment, told the European Parliament April 15 that plastic shopping bags are a “highly...    More

Image

Austria's Greiner building a foothold in the US rigid packaging market

April 15, 2014 1:22 pm ET

Greiner Packaging International GmbH, one of Europe's largest makers of rigid plastic packaging, now wants to make its mark in the United States.    More

Image

SodaStream turns to PET for its new pre-measured flavor 'Caps'

April 15, 2014 1:40 pm ET

SodaStream International Ltd., maker of home beverage carbonation systems, is using plastic to bring more flexibility to its consumers.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events