Waste Segregation and EPS Compactors: Essential Tools for Recycling Polystyrene Foam Waste

Importance of Waste Segregation

Advocating for and implementing waste segregation is crucial for facilitating the recycling of valuable waste. When all kinds of waste such as rotting food, broken glass, metal, old clothes and plastic are mixed together. This poses a major challenge for waste recycling. According to 2018 data, recycling rates in the United States are as follows: 65.6% for paper, 12.6% for metal, and less than 5% for wood, plastic, and glass. The proportion of plastics, including foam, remains low despite rapid growth in production, indicating that recycling rates are significantly lagging behind productivity.

Challenges in Recycling Polystyrene Foam

Considering the ratio of production to recycling, many types of waste are not being recycled effectively. One reason is the lack of efficient waste segregation. For example, construction waste often includes EPS foam and XPS foam, two common types of construction waste. These foams are typically used as insulation boards in buildings. However, being composed of 98% air, their large volume makes them difficult to recycle and segregate.

Common polystyrene foam waste comes from various industries such as food service, fisheries, and agriculture. Much of this polystyrene foam waste, which is not effectively recycled, ends up being landfilled or incinerated. When polystyrene foam is burned, it releases a mixture of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. One of the primary compounds released is styrene monomer, a suspected carcinogen. According to the U.S. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to styrene can cause a variety of health problems. These include respiratory problems, skin irritation, and potential long-term effects on the central nervous system. In addition, it produces smoke containing fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), so we do not want to take measures that will cause harm to the natural environment and human health.

The Role of EPS Compactors in Recycling

Current recycling technologies can support the effective recycling of polystyrene foam waste, and EPS compactors play a critical role in this process. First, industries must perform proper waste segregation. Often, industries dispose of discarded foam plastic waste by tossing it into trash bins or landfills, mixing it with other waste. This makes subsequent sorting much more labor-intensive, and foam plastic waste that could have been recycled ends up being buried.

Industries used to pile up discarded foam plastic waste, waiting for professional recyclers to collect and recycle it. However, over time, this method has proven inefficient, wasting storage space and incurring high processing fees. Thus, the cost-effectiveness of a polystyrene foam compactor becomes evident. Foam polystyrene waste filled with air is compressed to 1/50th of its original volume (we recommend Qinfeng’s EPS compactor for this), making it easier to transport and store. Additionally, the compacted foam blocks can be sold as an extra source of income, addressing environmental pollution and fostering an economic cycle.

CF-HM200 EPS Hot Melter Equipment Video

For instance, Qinfeng’s CF-HM200 hot melt compactor can compress foam blocks to a density of 500-600 kg per cubic meter (one container can hold more than 20 tons of material). It is suitable for medium-sized recycling centers and can process EPS, EPE, and EPP (with an optional frequency converter), reducing the waste volume by 80%-90%.

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