Polystyrene can take thousands of years to biodegrade in landfill.

"When they come into contact with warm food or drink, polystyrene food containers leach the toxins Styrene and Benzene (both suspected carcinogens, and known neurotoxins) -- some of which can ultimately be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissues. And it only gets worse if you pop that 'to-go' container in the microwave or want to 'warm up' that coffee." Read more about the dangers of polystyrene in this article



Polystyrene can be remanufactured many times without degradation in quality. 

Polystyrene is made into a foam material, called expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS), generally used for insulating and protective packaging. Foam polystyrene can be more than 95 percent air and is widely used to make home and appliance insulation, lightweight protective packaging, surfboards, foodservice and food packaging, automobile parts, roadway and roadbank stabilisation systems and more.

Polystyrene is made by stringing together or polymerising styrene, a building-block chemical used in the manufacture of many products. Styrene also occurs naturally in foods such as strawberries, cinnamon, coffee and beef.

See plastics - single use as some polystyrene products are now banned from manufacture and retail under the first tranche of regulations in 2022.


There are many alternatives to polystyrene packaging

  • biodegradable shells (compostable)
  • moulded cardboard (recyclable)
  • scrunched or shredded paper
  • popcorn (compostable)


Here are a few ideas on what else you can do with your polystyrene packaging

  • Keep it to use again when you relocate
  • Break the polystyrene down and refill your bean-bag
  • Place polystyrene at the bottom of a pot plant holder, and it will help with drainage
  • Polystyrene is an excellent insulator
  • If you want to keep something cool or warm, you can pack polystyrene around it to slow the transfer of energy.

Flat pieces of polystyrene (for reuse as insulation) and clean polystyrene buckets can be taken to the ReUse Academy at the WhEB for reuse. 


We are working on a recycling solution for Whanganui. We know polystyrene used in building construction is being recycled elsewhere in New Zealand.

If you have purchased a product packaged with moulded polystyrene, ask the retailer if it has a take-back scheme. Also suggest the retailer contact its supplier and suggest biodegradable packaging is used in the future.

The Green Business HQ website has information on specific locations in New Zealand where EPS/polystyrene is recycled.


Please keep from landfill wherever possible.