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
Companies & Associations

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

Image

Amut exec calls for a new approach to improve recycling

April 1, 2015 1:14 pm ET

Things have to change in order for recycling rates to increase and contamination to decrease, said the president of Amut North America during NPE...    More

Image

Erema expanding US site to show recycling systems capacity

April 1, 2015 1:09 pm ET

Austrian plastic recycling systems maker Erema North America Inc.'s is investing millions of dollars in an expansion aimed at providing more...    More

Image

Solegear raising funds as it debuts on TSX Venture stock exchange

April 1, 2015 11:08 am ET

A fledgling bioplastics company has raised capital for growth and obtained a listing on the TSX Venture stock exchange.    More

Image

Dow Chemical sees potential for PE growth in packaging

March 30, 2015 1:17 pm ET

The packaging market continues to provide growth for the polyethylene business of Dow Chemical Co. — which is a good thing, since the firm will ...    More

Image

Nanotechnology isn't science fantasy

March 30, 2015 12:15 pm ET

ORLANDO, FLA. — Nanotechnology is fast moving from the world of science fiction to science fact, with developments and app...    More

Market Reports

Trends in Resin Distribution

The growth of the North American resin distribution market is undeniable - and industry analysts are confident that growth will continue in 2015 and beyond.

This new report analyzes market trends and provides data on historical sales trends for PE (distribution and resellers), PolyOne Distribution figures, U.S. ethylene expansions based on shale gas and natural gas production by category to 2035.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events