Polystyrene Recycling at Heathfield

By Kendrea Rhodes

Expanded polystyrene is a type of plastic that can now be recycled at the Heathfield Resource Recovery Centre. The Adelaide Hills Council has installed a polystyrene melting machine at the Centre, thanks to a Recycling Infrastructure Grant from Green Industries SA. This is a fantastic opportunity to recycle moulded polystyrene, often used in packaging. The service is free, but the polystyrene must be in particular condition to be viable for recycling—white, clean, dry and unbroken (please don’t break it up).

Landfill is convenient but not necessarily suitable for the decomposition of organic or plastic compounds. That might be surprising, because we think of organic food waste as biodegradable, right? But the Science Learning Hub tells us that ‘the artificial landfill environment lacks the light, water and bacterial activity required for the decay process to begin.’

What is less surprising is that plastic compounds do not decompose in landfill, they generally need sunlight and many hundreds of years, thousands according to some scientists. Considering that polystyrene waste also takes up considerable space in landfill then a sensible approach to an otherwise serious pollutant is to recycle, reuse or avoid where possible.

According to the fact sheet on expanded polystyrene from the Australian Government’s National Plastics Plan, single use consumer plastics (such as expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging, and foam food and beverage containers) will be phased out because they cannot be recycled. Sadly, advice for these products at the moment is to put them in your blue landfill bin. Likewise, if you cannot take your recyclable polystyrene to Heathfield, it too must go in the blue bin. Our power as consumers lies in reducing demand for non-recyclable plastics, so making packaging part of the decision on your next purchase might have a greater impact than you think. 

The Council also provide free kitchen caddy starter kits (with a roll of compostable bags) for organics, available from Council Service Centres at Norton Summit, Woodside, Gumeracha, and Stirling. The kitchen caddy is an easy and clean way to collect compost in the kitchen and transfer it to the green bin. From there it is taken to a commercial facility and processed into mulch, compost and soil, for use in horticulture, public parks and gardens.

The Heathfield Resource Recovery Centre is open seven days a week and will also take care of your ‘general waste, paper and cardboard, green garden organics, construction and demolition materials, metals, whitegoods, oils, tyres, asbestos, electronic waste, gas cylinders, unwanted paint and household chemicals and mattresses’ (Adelaide Hills Council).

Local resident recycling polystyrene (free service) at the Heathfield Resource Recovery Centre.

These are just a few ways we can reduce waste into landfill to support our beautiful Hills’ environment. The Heathfield Resource Recovery Centre is operated by the Adelaide Hills Region Waste Management Authority on behalf of the Adelaide Hills Council, and is located at 32 Scott Creek Rd, Heathfield. For more information phone the Centre on 8339 432, visit the Council website www.ahc.sa.gov.au, or phone the Council on 8408 0400.

To open or download the entire issue, please click the image above.