SHOALHAVEN City Council has diverted nearly four tonnes of polystyrene from entering landfill since installing a hot compacting machine at its West Nowra Landfill nine months ago.
Commonly used in protective packaging and takeaway containers, expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a very light, high-volume material that does not easily break down.
Dumped in landfill, polystyrene takes up valuable space that could be used for denser materials. Illegal dumping of the material can cause long-term environmental issues by blocking of drains and waterways.
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash encouraged more local residents and businesses to take advantage of the free drop-off for all expanded polystyrene at any of council’s 10 recycling and waste depots.
“Since acquiring the hot compacting machine nine months ago, council has been able to extend the life of our landfill by reducing the volume of expanded polystyrene entering the facilities,” Cr Gash said.
In the first nine months of operating the West Nowra hot compaction unit, council contractor Subloo’s Pty Ltd has diverted about 800 cubic metres of loose EPS, made up of material separated and dropped off by the public free of charge at council’s recycling and waste depots, from landfill.
The large volume was reduced to only 10 cubic metres, or four tonnes, of compacted EPS.
Cr Gash said it was important local residents did not place EPS in the yellow lid recycling bin, saying the product becomes contaminated with other recyclables and cannot practically be recycled after being placed in this bin.
Council received a $50,000 grant from the NSW EPA and Australian Packaging Covenant to buy the hot compacting machine.