The Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC) announced on June 14 that it had developed a network that facilitates the online ordering and selling of polystyrene beads on the association’s website. The
PSPC has partnered with protective polystyrene casings supplier Isowall to install a Drotsky M16 Hammer Mill at Isowall’s Gauteng premises. Large pieces of polystyrene are fed into the milling chamber through a gravity feed hopper that has an adjustable slide to control the feed material. In the milling chamber, the material is struck by hammers (rectangular pieces of hardened steel) attached to rotor arms that are attached to a shaft. This rotor rotates at high speed inside the milling chamber and the material is crushed by repeated hammer impacts.
A perforated metal screen covers the full circle of the milling chamber and this enables properly sized (8 mm) polystyrene to pass as finished product, while the course material remains in the milling chamber for further grinding.
The hammer mill also has a blower on the outside of the screen, which discharges through a cyclone. The advantage of this unconventional design is that the milled product comes out of the machine at a far faster rate than with the conventional designs, thus generating less heat while milling the product.
“As part of the extended producer responsibility, retailers also rely on Isowall to collect and remove the polystyrene packaging from their premises after the appliances and goods, such as fridges or television sets, have been sold or placed on the showroom floor. Once collected, Isowall mills the polystyrene and makes it available for sale on the PSPC’s website,” explains PSPC director Adri Spangenberg.
“We have had an increase in the demand for polystyrene beads and are constantly receiving queries from crafting enthusiasts and businesses looking to buy poly- styrene beads,” she adds.
These lightweight beads are tiny bits of expanded polystyrene that are widely used in the crafting industry as fillers for a variety of different products, such as beanbags, pillows and chairs and the locally developed Wonderbags, used for cooking.
Spangenberg attributes this increase in demand for polystyrene beads to the high price of virgin material used to produce poly- styrene beads.
“Crafters have had to pay about R44/kg or more for polystyrene beads manufactured from virgin material,” says Spangenberg. “This is expensive for something that we could make available to the market at a fraction of the price. Post-industrial polystyrene is excellent quality, clean and white, and therefore ideal to be recycled into beads,” she adds.
Isowall and Packaging
“Isowall is focused on decreasing the environmental impacts that are controllable and have an influence in terms of its manufacturing and installation processes,” Isowall MD Peter van Duyn says.
“It is Isowall Group’s policy that sustainable and safe environmental practices be applied consistently and comprehensively to all its activities. “By creating these recycled polystyrene beads, we have created a win-win solution for everybody concerned that also saves landfill space and assists the retailers,” he highlights.
“We are hoping to install granulators at our Durban and Cape Town sites in the near future to expand this network to the rest of the country,” he concludes.