The Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign, running across Australia organizing local waste collection events. attending these collection days is a great way for me as a designer to connect with my local community, generate a bigger collection than what one person could and also get a better feel for what type of plastic is sitting in our environment.
The days clean up was held at Pratten Park, Broadbeach and according to the events organizers it was the most prolific amount of waste collected at a gold coast event. Each persons collection is gathered together and then sorted into waste categories to be properly disposed of.
I ended up only taking a partial amount of some rigid plastic to begin with as the plastic category was easily identifiable being bottles. I have given them an initial clean to eliminate the odour until I am ready process.
The amount of plastic waste was overwhelming but it gave me a better picture of what to expect from the type and condition the material is in and the hurdles a I have to overcome if I were to use the waste plastic in my products. Issues to overcome:
- Plastic is soiled and will need thorough cleaning
- Majority of plastic is in shards or scraps and thus hard to categorize
- As the group sorts the waste item such as foil and paper end up in the plastic sort, which will mean as I eventually sort through the plastic I will have to manage disposal of other materials.
Integrating the waste plastics into a closed loop system will be challenging. I believe I can eventually address the problem of removing foreign contaminants from the plastic by fabricating a drum that could spin and clean the plastic, working off a washing machine model. However, the plastic would then need to be dried as water will effect the remelting stage. This also bring up another question, once I have a shredder in place should the plastic be cleaned before shredding of after? As I believe foreign contaminants could be problematic to the shredder mechanism over time.
The event organizers are also disposing of the plastic correctly taking that plastic is correctly recycled. If this is the case, then I have to ask myself how am I a better solution to recycling the waste as compared to an industrial recycling plant?