The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • PS/EPS

    PS/EPS

Polystyrene (PS)


CLOSURES & CLOSURE LINERS; SAFETY SLEEVES

PREFERRED

Closures without liners, made from polymers with density <1.0 that float in water
Closures plus liners made from polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water (specifically PE & PP closures; PE foam, EVA, TPE liners)
Shrink film safety sleeves of polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water

Floating polymers are most easily separated from rigid polystyrene in conventional separation systems. Care must be taken when modifying the polyethylene or polypropylene to ensure the modifier does not increase the overall density to the point it sinks. Note that these sinking polymers are not removed in the combined recycling process but, instead, become a contaminant. Minimizing closure size is advantageous to both processes.

Shrink film safety sleeves that are designed to be completely removed before the package can be opened

Regardless of material, designs that require complete removal by the consumer of the safety sleeve are Preferred, as the material will not be introduced into the recycling stream.

DETRIMENTAL

Closure liners that are composites of aluminum and paper

These materials will contaminate wash water, will contribute to waste disposal costs, or will stick to the saleable closure material or valuable PS and reduce quality and value of the final products.

Closures and shrink film safety sleeves made of polymers with density >1.0 that sink in water (specifically PS, silicone, nylon, acetal, thermosets)

These materials are heavier than water and sink in the float-sink tank with rigid PS. They are extremely difficult to separate from the recycled polymer flake, requiring a costly and inexact polymer flake sorter currently not installed in many reclaiming operations.

Also see "Requires Test Results" Section

RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

PVC

The use of PVC closures or closure liners renders the package non-recyclable per APR. PVC sinks and is extremely hard for the recycler to remove, particularly in small pieces. The recycled PS stream is very intolerant of even minute amounts of PVC.

REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

Closures or lidding with metal components

Sortation testing for metal components will result in either a Detrimental or a Renders Non-Recyclable ruling. Metal components cannot be Preferred at this time.

Metal contamination is highly undesirable in recycled PS. Metals create wear in process machinery, increase operation costs and yield loss, and are a primary source of defects in products made with recycled PS. MRFs and PS reclaimers use magnets and metal detectors to keep packages with metal components out of the process stream. Metal components such as closures or lidding that trigger metal detectors will cause the entire plastic item to be removed from the stream and not recycled. At best, sortation testing will classify such an item as Detrimental to Recycling.

BENCHMARK TEST

Shrink film safety sleeves that are NOT designed to be completely removed before the package can be opened

If a shrink film safety sleeve is designed such that pieces of it may not detach from the package when opened, the material must be tested to determine its compatibility with PS recycling. Specifically, such materials should either float and be separated from the PS, or if they sink, they must be compatible with PS. Companies that are considering such sleeves and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

No test methods currently exist for PS. However, PET Package Component Sink/Float Evaluation (PET-S-05) may be adapted substituting PS for PET.

SCREENING TEST

No test methods currently exist for PS. However, Critical Guidance Protocol for Clear PET Articles with Labels and Closures (PET-CG-02) may be adapted, substituting PS for PET, using ambient temperature water with no detergent

BENCHMARK TEST


SPRAY DISPENSERS AND PUMPS

PREFERRED

Polymers with density < 1.0 that float in water (specifically PE & PP closures; PE foam, EVA, TPE liners)

The density of PS is 1.05 and so it sinks in water. Since these other polymers float in water, they are most easily separated from rigid PS flake in conventional separation systems. Care must be taken when modifying the PE or PP, with mineral fillers for example, to ensure the modifier does not increase the overall density to the point it sinks.

DETRIMENTAL

See "Requires Test Results" Section

RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

PVC

The use of PVC in closures, liners, spray dispensers or pumps renders the package non-recyclable per APR. PVC sinks and is extremely hard for the recycler to remove, particularly in small pieces. The recycled PS stream is very intolerant of even minute amounts of PVC.

REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

Valves containing silicone (density and floatability will vary)

Check valves in spray dispensers or pumps may be made of silicone as an alternative to metals. While polymers are generally preferable to metals, the composition of a silicone part may cause it to be incompatible with PS recycling. It should float in the sink/float system or be compatible with PS if it sinks. Companies that are considering such components and are unsure of their compatibility with recycling should ask their suppliers to provide APR test results.

No test methods currently exist for PS. However, PET Package Component Sink/Float Evaluation (PET-S-05) may be adapted substituting PS for PET.

SCREENING TEST

No test methods currently exist for PS. However, Critical Guidance Protocol for Clear PET Articles with Labels and Closures (PET-CG-02) may be adapted, substituting PS for PET, using ambient temperature water with no detergent

DEFINITIVE TEST

Closures, dispenser valves, or springs made of metal

Sortation testing for metal components will result in either a Detrimental or a Renders Non-Recyclable ruling. Metal components cannot be Preferred at this time. Metal is difficult to separate from PS compared to the preferred closure systems (polypropylene and polyethylene) and adds both capital and operating costs to conventional reclamation processes. Even a small amount of metal left in the recycled polymer stream will block extruder screens in remanufacturing. Large metal items attached to PS packages may cause the package to be directed to the metal or waste stream in the recycling process, causing yield loss. Small metal components such as spray dispenser springs unravel in the recycling process and blind screens, adding significant cost for removal at the end of the process.

DEFINITIVE TEST


Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

PREFERRED

Shrink film safety sleeves that are designed to be completely removed before the package can be opened

Regardless of material, designs that require complete removal by the consumer of the safety sleeve are Preferred, as the material will not be introduced into the recycling stream.

DETRIMENTAL

Polypropylene and polyethylene closures

Although the polymer is heavier than water, EPS floats in water due to the air entrapped in the structure. PE and PP float as well so they are not separated by conventional density separation methods. PE and PP therefore, remain with the EPS until the extrusion process. Contaminants that remain until the extrusion process are filtered from the PS if they remain solid at PS processing temperatures. PE and PP are liquid at these temperatures and are not removed.

Also see "Requires Test Results" Section

RENDERS NON-RECYCLABLE

PVC

Float sink tanks are not perfect machines. Even though PVC sinks and the EPS floats small amounts of PVC travel with the EPS. The recycled EPS stream is very intolerable to even minute amounts of PVC since it degrades quickly at EPS processing temperatures, erodes machinery and creates a safety risk. Small pieces of PVC render large amounts of the finished product unusable.

Also see "Requires Test Results" Section

REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

Closures or lidding with metal components

Sortation testing for metal components will result in either a Detrimental or a Renders Non-Recyclable ruling. Metal components cannot be Preferred at this time.

Metal contamination is highly undesirable in recycled EPS. Metals create wear in process machinery, increase operation costs and yield loss, and are a primary source of defects in products made with recycled EPS. MRFs and EPS reclaimers use magnets and metal detectors to keep packages with metal components out of the process stream. Metal components such as closures or lidding that trigger metal detectors will cause the entire plastic item to be removed from the stream and not recycled. At best, sortation testing will classify such an item as Detrimental to Recycling.

BENCHMARK TEST

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