Recycling Expanded Polystyrene becomes a reality with Styroloop

New Month, new interview! It’s almost mid-April, which means that it’s time we spoke to someone new who is making a positive difference to our environment. Meet Katie-May Boyd. Katie has a background in costume design and has always been really interested in Science. Since 2011 she’s been living, studying and working in London across costume, materials and design. She plays netball every week and just can’t get enough of eating out in the city! But Katie is doing something else that’s pretty awesome too - she’s the owner of Styroloop - a company that recycles expanded polystyrene and turns it into something new. We think that’s pretty cool! So, let’s take a closer look at Styroloop and its CEO…

Katie-May Boyd

Katie-May Boyd

Copy of styrologo.png

Ok, first things first, what inspired your idea for Styroloop? 

The idea for Styroloop stemmed from my MA research, trying to find a solution to the unmanaged waste stream of expanded Polystyrene (EPS). During my masters (MA Material Futures at Central Saint Martin’s) I initially wanted to research 3D printing and modelling, and I was visiting a large staging company that made creations for all sorts of productions and events. They mentioned that they make large sculptures from EPS and have to pay to get the waste material picked up, which they knew went to landfill. When I started to investigate this, I found out that EPS is not recycled, which I thought was appalling in today’s society, especially when we know the damage plastic pollution does. Since then I have been trying to make EPS recycling a reality.  

Wow! It’s hard to realise all the waste we don’t even think about - let alone the harm it’s causing our environment. So, what’s your mission?

My mission is to offer EPS recycling to councils so that house holds and small businesses are able to recycle EPS for the first time. I also want to create products that are high value and celebrate the qualities of the material rather than create things from plastic that have a short, single lifespan. 

EPS waste ready to be recycled

EPS waste ready to be recycled

Beckoning-cat made from the recycled EPS

Beckoning-cat made from the recycled EPS

And how did it all come to fruition?

I met the team at a Climate Change Hackathon (Climathon 2018) and our idea on the day included my recycling process. From there we came 2nd place and received business training and since then everyone’s varied skills have meant that we’ve been able to grow and refine our idea into a sustainable business model. 

Katie with Charlie (EV Driver & Styroloop) presenting at the 2019 Mayor’s Award in London

Katie with Charlie (EV Driver & Styroloop) presenting at the 2019 Mayor’s Award in London

Amazing! You’ve also recently presented at the Mayor’s Award in London - can you tell me a little bit about that?

The Mayor’s Award was a great process to go through - there was so much support through training and it was an amazing opportunity to meet the other competing entrepreneurs, hear their ideas and pitches as well as swap advice. The day of the final was brilliant. Being able to pitch to the judges, all experts in their field, and to present in the chamber was a real experience. The whole process also gave us a real boost of confidence, because we were putting our idea out there and people were really responding. 

Congratulations - it sounds like quite the experience. What do you see for the future of Styroloop?

I see the future of Styroloop as a hub for circular design, taking a fresh look at how we create new products and show respect to materials. I hope we can offer not just a solution to EPS waste but expand into other materials, using knowledge in material innovation and design research to provide truly sustainable products, that can live on again and again.

Thank you very much to Katie for answering our questions. For more information about Styroloop, have a look at their website here.