PS (6) is the plastic polystyrene, recycling category 6, and there is more to it than just ‘Styrofoam’. STYROFOAM® is actually a trademarked brand of expanded polystyrene packaging, and is only one use of the incredibly versatile polystyrene plastic. Expanded polystyrene is the opaque foam packaging, but there is also polystyrene homopolymer, otherwise called ‘crystal’ polystyrene. While these two types of polystyrene share a name and properties, they are very different in appearance and uses.
There are many benefits of polystyrene:
Looking at this list, it seems obvious why it makes such a great packing material; it protects products against shock, it’s light but strong, it keeps the product at a stable temperature, and it’s cheap to create.
There are many uses of expanded ‘foam’ type polystyrene, because of its superior cushioning and insulating properties.
Due to its properties, polystyrene is ideal for food packaging because it:
The crystal form of polystyrene has the same insulating and non-reactive properties as the foam, but it is clear, brittle, and a hard plastic. It looks like glass, and therefore has a number of uses in industries where being able to see a product is an advantage. The uses for crystal polystyrene include:
It’s particularly good for the hemp and cosmetic industries, for a number of reasons.
One of the big myths about polystyrene is that it can’t be recycled. While that’s not strictly true, it is not as easy to recycle as other types of plastic.
The big problem with expanded polystyrene is that it’s fragile, breaking down easily into tiny pieces which go into the environment and particularly, into waterways. It also takes up a lot of space in landfills. Luckily, due to that fragile nature of polystyrene, it is easy to grind down and reuse.
Currently, polystyrene is not picked up by local waste kerb side recycling systems in NZ. However, it can be recycled into house insulation. Consumers can drop off their household waste at a number of sites around the country. The recycler can also arrange pickup from commercial sites such as whiteware retailers.
The hard crystal polystyrene cannot be recycled in NZ.
At Comag Agencies, we have a range of elegant packaging options made from polystyrene. Whether it’s a lip balm or sample container that easily fits in a pocket or handbag, or a larger pot for a balm or cream, we can help.
Check out our range of Cosmetic Pots. We have an extensive range of cosmetic and food packaging options and can help to advise you on what will be best for your product longevity and safety.