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Polystyrene Recycling Cube - EXPOL sustainability

Sustainability: It’s in our DNA

After helping Kiwis insulate their homes for over 30 years, EXPOL has become a household name. But our commitment goes beyond insulation—we are equally passionate about our environmental impact. As CEO Mark Mischefski explains, “Sustainability is part of our DNA, it’s as important to us as any other part of our business.”

Polystyrene is renowned for its excellent insulation properties, making it a popular choice. However, being a plastic-based product, it presents environmental challenges. As a responsible manufacturer, at EXPOL, we want to make sure our product is having as small an impact on the planet as possible. Our goal is to ensure the benefits of insulation today do not cause harm for generations of Kiwis tomorrow.

A Journey towards a Circular Economy
Step 1 – Waste-free factories

Our journey to reduce waste began over a decade ago, starting with our own factories. We’ve looked to minimise waste through our manufacturing process, and recycling any waste that does occur. It’s a work in progress and we’re getting down to the finest details – ensuring we even recycle our dust!

Step Two – Building Sites

We know that construction waste is a big challenge in Aotearoa, and we’d like EXPOL to be part of the solution, not the problem. Our insulation products are delivered to site and then cut to size, resulting in off-cuts going to landfill. To address this, we recycle EXPOL waste from building sites – not only do we deliver it, we come and collect any waste too.

Step three – Expanding to Consumer Waste

As we added more recycling sites around the country – now totalling 7, we’ve created the capacity to do more! We also wanted to offer everyday Kiwis a way to recycle household waste, but were challenged by the cost of transporting polystyrene to our recycling plants.

That’s when we reached out to our trade partners to help. Mitre 10 were able to add collection points to many of their stores, while some councils and refuse stations have also come on board – often collecting and delivering the waste to us. It’s been a true community effort to keep polystyrene waste out of landfill.

Step four – Commercial Waste

We also accommodate large commercial users of polystyrene such as appliance retailers, hospitals and importers, integrating their waste into our recycling program whenever possible.

It’s a Balancing Act

As our recycling programs expanded, managing the balance between incoming recyclable material and the demand for recycled products became crucial. Using recycled content in our existing products, such as insulation, was a great start, but it wasn’t enough. That’s when we tasked our technical team with creating products that could use more of the recycled material.

Introducing Green Beans

If you own a bean bag, you’ll know the volume of beans that goes into filling one! Typically bean bag fill is made with virgin polystyrene, which ultimately ends up in landfill. The EXPOL team saw this as an opportunity and went about creating a bean bag product created from 100% recycled polystyrene. Not only that, but the product is also fully recyclable at the end of use, so it has the potential to be used and reused indefinitely.

Green Beans have been a success story beyond expectation! So far customers have purchased 11.5 million litres of Green Beans – keeping nearly 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools of polystyrene out of landfills and saving 240 tonnes of virgin material.

Continual improvements

Our team continually explores ways to incorporate recycling into our products and reduce waste. By refining production processes, such as cutting our product differently we can reduce the waste produced. By offering customised solutions like products from the MAXRaft range, we help construction sites order precisely what they need, helping to also reduce waste produced onsite.

The Right Thing to Do

Recycling doesn’t provide a direct financial benefit to EXPOL. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about margins or greenwashing, it’s about taking responsibility for the products we create. As the largest manufacturer of polystyrene in New Zealand, it is important to us to also lead the way in recycling.

We’re certainly not doing this alone! We are members of a number of industry, government and environmental working groups, all working towards a greener future. We are proud to contribute to this collective effort, making a positive impact on our environment.

Learn more about our recycling programme.


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