A NEW recycling machine at Lismore City Council’s waste facility is turning the area’s discarded polystyrene into valuable building materials, while saving 550 cubic metres of landfill space annually.
The $43,000 extruder machine, which started processing the polystyrene rubbish into compact plastic-like ingots just before Christmas, reduces the foam’s size by 90 per cent.
According to waste and water education officer Kevin Trustum, the processed polystyrene ingots are sold to a Melbourne recycling outfit for $800 a tonne and sent to South Korea to be turned into plastic picture frames, skirting boards andother building material.
“In some Asian countries where timber is scarce the recycled material is very valuable for the building industry,” Mr Trustum said.
“The problem with polystyrene was that it was hard to compact and resurfaces in landfill. It also blows all over the place.”
Lismore City is the first council on the Northern Rivers to buy an extruder, joining only a handful of Sydney councils to take up polystyrene recycling.
According to Mr Trustum, the extruder has been working hard, processing all the wrapping from polystyrene-clad Christmas gifts such as TVs and toys at a rate of four cubic metres a day.
So, too, the post-Christmas clean-up has meant the amount of cardboard recycled has increased ‘exponentially’, Mr Trustum said.
The profits from the processed polystyrene will be funnelled back into Lismore City Council’s recycling initiatives.
The 550 cubic metres of landfill space saved by the extruder is estimated to be worth $77,000 annually.
The polystyrene program joins the recent addition of an oil filter machine at the Lismore waste facility.