Environment Minister awards polystyrene recycling champion

Polystyrene recycling champion Leo Sines was honoured with the Minister’s Award for Leadership at the Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Awards, for 12 years of campaigning to turn polystyrene waste into wealth.

State Environment Minister Andrew Powell said Leo’s prototype polystyrene chipper and Polystyrene Recycling Queensland (PRQ) operations have to date recycled more than 350 tonnes of expanded polystyrene and diverted 30,000 cubic metres from landfill.

“Thanks to Leo’s vision and tenacity, hundreds of tonnes of expanded polystyrene are transformed each year into a range of new and useful products,” Mr Powell said.

“These include items as diverse as photo frames, coat hangers and synthetic timbers which are sold both locally and overseas.”

There are now five chippers in operation across Queensland. The chipped polystyrene is compacted into recyclable bricks, shrinking its volume by an incredible 66 per cent and creating a sturdy material with many possible uses.

“Leo’s innovative idea is a good example of an industry helping us all to balance economic development while protecting our environment,” said Mr Powell.

Accepting the award, Mr Sines said he had a plan that, starting by placing his chippers in each of the state’s regional centres, would allow Queensland to entirely remove  expanded polystyrene (EPS) waste from landfill.

“Our plan is simple and achievable and, indeed, Redland City Council and other key supporters have already proven its success,” said Mr Sines.
“We have, furthermore, forged a strong secondary re-use export market in China; right now Asia will buy every kilo I’ve got.

“Ultimately, however, I want the fruits of our Australian-first, Queensland-based recycling innovations to remain here,” added Mr Sines. “And, with support, I fully intend to realise my vision to create local manufacturing opportunities for recycled EPS product.”

Queensland, which is Australia’s largest EPS manufacturer, produces more than 11,000 tonnes of EPS each year. While a little more than half of this material is used for long-term building and construction, the remaining mass will ultimately go to landfill if it does not reach PRQ’s chippers first.

“At present, each year more than 460 mammoth trucks are dumping a lucrative market opportunity within easy reach of Queensland business,” said Mr Sines.