Now is the time to see to it that all your used polystyrene is recycled as loads will be needed to build one million houses with panels made of recycled scrap polystyrene in a new patented formula. An exciting announcement was made last week of this new technology to turn recycled scrap polystyrene into building material for houses.
This pilot project announced by the Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC) has found houses to be a viable end-market for contaminated, coloured and black polystyrene. Test results were shared after testing the model homes built with the mixture.
This came out during the PSPC’s annual general meeting where the director, Adri Spangenberg reported on various exciting developments embarked on and achievements made during the past year. She also showcased various products made from recycled polystyrene, including new initiatives that have been developed in recent years to promote the recycling of this versatile product.
Business, non-profit and university work together
Launched towards the end of 2012, a joint venture between GC Construction (GCC), the Mobile Educational (MET) and Training Trust and the University of Pretoria’s Construction Economics Faculty had created a viable end-market for contaminated polystyrene using a patented intellectual property (IP).
“Clear, colourless or white polystyrene always had the highest recycling value, with waste management and recycling companies preferring to collect and recycle unpigmented containers,” explained Adri Spangenberg, Director of the PSPC.
“Recently our paths have crossed with that of Prof. Hennie Snyman form GC Construction and the Mobile Educational and Training Trust, a non-profit organisation, who has developed a global patented chemical mixture that uses recycled scrap polystyrene. They can also include coloured, black or contaminated polystyrene such as being used in food packaging applications. This includes fast-food trays, take-away cups or trays used to package meat and fresh fruit. All of this goes into creating a solid wall system for use in the construction industry.”
Adri shared the test results that had been obtained from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) after testing the model homes built with the mixture.
“The SABS subjected the chemical mixture to a series of tests, ranging from fire and water-penetration tests to load-bearing, impact and stress tests, at the SABS. The results were off the charts and were met with unprecedented success,” Adri said. This was the first time in history that polystyrene had sustained heat at 1 800˚C.
After a two-hour fire test, using 15 000 litres of diesel, the tested panel remained intact. Following the completion of the test, the outer temperature of the polystyrene waste and chemical panel had dropped 21˚C from the start of the test to two hours in furnace.
Fire safe and very much in demand
“We are going to need polystyrene – and a lot of it – because the government has given the go-ahead for one million houses to be built using recycled poloystyrene in this way, with the patented chemical mixture, moulded into building panels. fpr every 1 200cm x 500cm panel we need 12kg of polystyrene, waste and chemicals.”
To keep the intellectual property safe, the GCC and METT dry-chemical mixture will be mixed and packaged at the company’s flagship factory in Pretoria, from where it will be sent to the various factories across the country.
“Three factories will be opened in each of South Africa’s nine provinces to use the patented, dry-mix formula to manufacture the wall panels and other construction materials that can be moulded from the mixture,” Adri explained.
3 Factories in each of our 9 provinces
“This is going to be a franchise-based job-creation project controlled by GCC and METT, which hold the intellectual property of the product,” Adri said. “The patent holders will be rolling out the project across South Africa and the rest of the continent as soon as licences are issued to interested parties.”
In order to be ready to meet the imminent demand for recycled polystyrene, the PSPC has teamed up with a waste management machinery manufacturer, Akura, to supply machines and auxiliary equipment, which include baling presses for the recycling industry, static compactors for supermarkets and retail shopping malls, as well as complete municipal waste transfer stations.
Balers and granulators to help collection of polystyrene countrywide
The PSPC has also put certain measures in place to improve collection from households and transportation of the product. “Two balers have been installed at separate waste management sites in Gauteng. They are the national onsite waste management company WastePlan in Pretoria and ABSA Capital in Sandton, which collects polystyrene waste from its own cafeteria and those in surrounding buildings to be baled and shipped for recycling,” Adri said.
“PSPC also installed a granulator at Remade Recycling – an independent multiproduct recycling company – in order to supply the Get Connected team with granulated polystyrene that we’ve collected from factories and large retailers.”
Meanwhile, data and statistics from the installed balers and granulator are being gathered for use in business plans for potential waste management companies.
“The PSPC will use this information to help new companies and entrepreneurs who would like to start collecting polystyrene to generate an income. We will be able to assist them with a business plan so that they know what kind of machines they need and what volumes they need to consider. We will support them, assist with marketing and ensure that they get the materials for their machines,” Adri concluded.