Contrary to popular belief “All the expanded polystyrene foam that is thrown away in the US every year accounts for no more than 1% of the volume of land fill garbage.” The actual amount is 0.6%. Paper actually fills 30% of the volume of our landfills and food 15%. This fact that EPS is only 0.6% perhaps needs to be tempered a bit: Many of those older buildings that have come on-line since EIFS was brought to the US in 1969, have not reached their useful end as of yet and as such have not made it to the waste stream. That’s pretty astonishing considering most of EIFS’ detractors would have you believe that EIFS is no a durable or long lasting product.
The fact of the matter is that as that issue may present itself, technology has come up with a solution for the volume of space EPS can take up in our landfills. A European company, Purex International, has developed a process called Styromelt which involves putting the discarded EPS between two temperature controlled platens (think of two irons on either side). The EPS is heated to a melting point forming a dense resin that when cooled, effectively reduces the EPS volume by 95%. This process is now being used in Europe. It is unaffected by food or other contaminants. The thermally condensed blocks can be used for myriad of products including green diesel and propane.