10 February 2020 by James Langley

Aberdeenshire trials polystyrene recycling

Aberdeenshire council has begun a one-year trial of polystyrene recycling at three of its household recycling centres as part of efforts to boost recycling rates in the county.

A one-year contract was signed with packaging company Styropack to provide the service.

The first load of Aberdeenshire’s polystyrene collected by Styropack

Chair of Aberdeenshire council’s infrastructure services councillor Peter Argyle said: “The polystyrene recycling trial reflects the council’s continued efforts to boost recycling rates in Aberdeenshire.

“If the outcome is positive, this trial could lead to a long-term solution for polystyrene disposal in Aberdeenshire.”

Once collected, the material will be ground down and re-used in Styropack packaging. This includes packaging for white goods, meat, horticulture and produce.

Though unclear about quite how much polystyrene would be collected during the trial, a Styropack spokesperson told letsrecycle.com that after just a couple of days the company had received enough material to fill a small van.

The company claims that 52% of the UK’s polystyrene packaging production was recycled in 2018.


Bins have been designated for polystyrene at the three participating recycling centres at Banchory, Portlethen and Stonehaven.

For the moment, the centres will accept Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) only. This includes most polystyrene packing materials, such as shape-moulded packaging, blocks and planks of fill materials, packing boxes and packaging balls.

The centres will not accept any polystyrene containers contaminated with food, takeaway packaging, biodegradable or compostable packing chips, or Styrofoam cups.


The council also began a one-year recycling trial of rigid plastics at its Ellon and Peterhead facilities in June 2019.

“The polystyrene trial is a positive step towards increasing our recycling rate in Aberdeenshire”

Ros Baxter

Ros Baxter, Aberdeenshire council’s waste manager, said: “Both the polystyrene and rigid plastic pilots will provide key data that will help shape the services we provide to the public.

“We’re continually seeking opportunities to recycle new materials and divert waste from the landfill.

“The polystyrene trial is a positive step towards increasing our recycling rate in Aberdeenshire.”


The trial is part of a wider waste strategy approved by councillors in 2019. The strategy aims to improve waste and recycling services in Aberdeenshire, including at its network of HRCs.

The council’s vice-chair John Cox said: “Aberdeenshire residents regularly enquire about polystyrene recycling. This trial aims to meet those demands and create a more efficient recycling service.”

Aberdeenshire council represents more than 260,000 constituents.

It collects around 60,000 tonnes of recyclable material and 80,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste annually from 120,000 households and business customers across the region.

In 2017 Aberdeenshire’s recycling rate was 43.7%, slightly below the Scottish average of 45.6%.

In a bid to improve its rate, the council announced a move to three-weekly residual waste collections in May 2019 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Residual waste is currently treated as part of a long-term contract with Suez, largely using the company’s Stoneyhill landfill site.

While the polystyrene recycling trial is the first with which Styropack have been involved, the company says it expects to take part in more in the future.


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