Recycled polystyrene


Made in

Circular 217 Polymer 40 Recyclable 119 Recycled 123 Plastic 17 Polystyrene 2

Recycled polystyrene

Photos: Katie May Boyd, Nicolas Canal

Deflated Polystyrene (DPS)

Historically the UK has sent 30% of all its waste to China. However, on the 1st of March 2018, China enacted a ban on the import of all ‘foreign garbage’. This created a huge problem for the UK which didn't have the infrastructure to deal with its own waste, particularly materials like Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which is a completely recyclable material but is currently not recycled anywhere in the UK. Before the ban, 45% of it was being sent straight to landfill, 10% to Energy from Waste (EFW) and 45% sold by waste brokers to China. However, since March 2018 this material has been stockpiled or buried, as we have no domestic processes to deal with it.

Through experimentation Katie May Boyd developed a new recycling process, without the use of heat or pressure, to create Deflated Polystyrene (DPS). This material can be moulded into any shape, so it has many potential applications. Most importantly, it is circular. It can be returned to a malleable form and be remoulded countless times.

The project uses DPS to tell a story of the politics of waste. The stockpiled rubbish that the UK is grappling with, is a symptom of a bigger problem: we have an excess of buying rather than an excess of waste. This is perfectly illustrated by EPS as it is not even a product, it’s the packaging that your product arrives in.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.




MA Material Futures, Mayor of London, Nicolas Canal

Physical samples

Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab