Why is expanded polystyrene an issue?

Single-use plastic items made from expanded polystyrene are designed to be used once then discarded. Expanded polystyrene does not break down for hundreds of years and ends up in landfill or as litter where it fragments into smaller pieces and causes harm to the land and ocean environments.

Items in scope

Examples include:

  • Loose-fill packaging materials.
  • Expanded polystyrene trays used for supplying portions of fresh fruit, vegetables and/or meat products.
  • Other single-use products made from expanded polystyrene.

Benefits of the product

  • Lightweight, cheap and readily available.
  • Provides excellent protection and insulation.

Reasons for consideration

While polystyrene can be recycled industrially it is difficult to collect and process recycle at the household level and is not collected for recycling in the ACT or the region.

Possible exemptions

  • Brown goods (e.g. electronics and appliances).
  • White goods (e.g. fridges, freezers, washing machines).
  • Other exemptions may be considered.

Possible alternatives

  • Fibre based packaging.
  • PET or PP plastic.
  • Myco-composite and mycelium-based packaging.
  • Genuine compostable alternatives that meet the Australian Standards AS 4736‑2006 (biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment) or AS 5810-2010 (biodegradable plastics—biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting).