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Plastic bags are something that we all have lying around. Most of these bags can be recycled. You can even recycle them yourself at home. In this project I am going to show you how to fuse plastic bags together to make thick sheets of plastic that you can use in your craft projects.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Here is a video walkthrough of the project.

<p>One recommendation. Using your 2 x 2 sheet layering, you can do an offset of about 1/4 inch and that would allow you to add length and width to your plastic - similar to tongue and groove boards. Fusing the offset overlaps allows to you create lengths of 12&quot; x (X)&quot; or 20&quot; x (X)&quot; sheets.</p>
<p>How did you use those plastic sheets? Please show us in your next videos.</p>
<p>Thank you. that's very useful.</p>
<p>Very useful! Thank you for the detailed instructions. </p>
<p>Thanks, but I think its still inefficient ways. wasting time and energy I mean</p>
<p>Great instructions. Very comprehensive. Thanks.</p>
<p>How exactly are people not concerned about the fact that you're <em>melting plastic?</em></p><p>Doesn't plastic give off toxic gases when you melt it?</p>
<p>nope in fact i have melted down a lot of other things aside from plastic bags i have melted milk jugs detergent containers and other containers the important thing is that they are hdpe this type of plastic will not smell or release nasty fumes in fact i couldnt smell anything at all as long as you are not overheating it just remember not to melt any other types of plastic such as pvc or styrofoam which is polystyrene these will smell bad when melting and release fumes</p>
Not all plastics. High Density Polyethylene gives off minimal fumes at these temperatures. If inhaled, the can irritate the lungs but are not highly toxic. If you work in a well ventilated area you will be fine.
<p>Thanks for the info.</p><p>Maybe I could just do this with all of my plastic bags and make a house out of it by stapling sheets together :P</p>
<p>Never knew that.When I was reading I was like,&quot;What?<strong>Iron</strong> <strong>plastic?!&quot;</strong></p><p>Thanks for the information.</p>
<p>I have run out of plastic in the middle of a project and love this re-use idea.</p><p>For those of you who are truly interested in a sanitary reduction idea, talk to your local seamstress or quilter! I've been making bags for friends for years now that are easy to wash. I now live the SFO bay area and most only have feel good practices about recycling. I'm the only one on my street with the little itty bity trash can and the great big recycle can. My daughter went to college in a town that banned plastic shopping bags many years ago, before it was popular! Any idea should be considered for it's merits and balance. This may not be a perfect re-use, but it is a re-use. Recycle the rest :-) Positive thoughts on a problem can find solutions, let's build on the positivity.</p><p>Thanks for this idea!</p>
<p>This is way too much work for the return.</p>
<p>nice</p>
<p>Let me just put a brick in the oven and see what happens </p>
I just made a small rest piece. Find out out the range on my iron that worked best. I'm vert pleased with it. The comments about the fumes are helpful. I was concerned about that. Great tutorial. The pen is for scale.
<p>Awesome. Thanks for sharing.</p>
<p>very nice. I needed something like this.</p>
<p>Could you give me some ideas of what kinds of crafts you could use these sheets for?</p>
You can make heavy duty shoulder bags. You can make backpacks. You can make raincoats. You can cut them into shapes and then fuse the cutouts onto other pieces of plastic to add some decoration to them.
<p>I was recently in Nicaragua where cooperatives were making all kinds of stuff out of scrap plastic. But they didn't know what to do with all the plastic bags that just blow all over. </p>
<p>Just yesterday I was wondering if this could be done...now I know. Thank you!</p><p>(To the snarky and smartie-pants commenters: Please remember that those who share their ideas are being generous and helpful. You, however, are being mean and condescending. So please be nice - or be <em>gone</em>.)</p>
<p>2 hours work for a piece of $.29 plastic.</p>
<p>This is a neat way to recycle plastic bags, however the most important step in the 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' mantra is REDUCE. Avoiding the use of plastic bags is far more effective than trying to find ways of reusing/recylcing them afterwards. Ultimately it all ends up in the ocean.</p>
<p>Your heart is in the right place Jim unfortunately it is not that simple, bags are not the main issue. It would be great to eliminate ALL packaging but currently we need it for hygiene and practical handling. A simple weight for weight examination of the packaging in a standard shopping bag full of purchases shows that the shopping bag is a mere drop in the ocean (pun intended).<br>Despite the uninformed urban myths, all organic polymers do breakdown in the environment eventually; the rate depends on exposure to UV and oxygen. Admittedly the process is not as fast as some would like but polymer decomposition doesn't rapidly release greenhouse gases either. Polymer film, such as that used to make shopping bags, breaks down much quicker than plastic bottles. <br>If you are going to eliminate the plastic bag what are you going to substitute?<br>Before you say &quot;the shopping bags sold in supermarkets&quot;, those that I have seen are made from polypropylene another polyolefin, enough to make around 20-40 film bags. PP in air and UV actually breaks down faster than PE and so the bags eventually rip and we dump them. Then they end up buried in anaerobic garbage dumps protected from oxygen and UV where ironically they last much longer than PE film.<br>Before you say &quot;paper&quot;, be aware that a study done a couple of decades ago showed that the Complete Life Cycle of paper products was more energy consuming and damaging to the environment than plastic. That was before the concerns of greenhouse gases from paper decomposition and burning was taken into account; also before the concerns of using potential food producing land for such materials in a world where food production is becoming an issue.<br>What we need is a completely new paradigm of product supply to consumers. Sadly unless the government applies pressure to the right hip pockets it seems a long way off.</p>
<p>You have totally ignored the fact that paper is infinitely recyclable and has no reason but indifference to end up in a landfill. Please consider that the world ran just fine before all these plastic &quot;conveniences&quot; popped up in the sixties and seventies. I have been using my plastic and canvas reusable bags for five years now and they are holding up just fine but I don't hang them on the clothesline either.</p>
<p>Actually Paper is only CLAIMED to be infinitely recyclable, However every time paper is pulped the fibers shorten and its viability as anything but tissue is lost. Sadly things like news print and any other paper needing bleaching is rarely used as tissue due to the fact that bleached papers cause sensitivity issues on mucus membranes and there is No telling where the tissue pulp will be going, for sanitary tissues or gift wrap. HOWEVER there IS a better use, If you have alternative energy heating sources. Paper can be soaked and turned into a wood alternative for use in wood burners. A while back I saw two different paper log rollers on here. Not to make a political statement, BUT if our government would legalize Hemp (I didnt say POT as not all hemp is marijuana) and our paper industry would transition (literally no equipment change, just stop using the BIG wood chippers) There would be even les paper in landfills, better paper and MORE home made logs for heating as one acre of hemp makes the same amount of paper in one year as one acre of wood does in 20, not to mention hemp linen, hemp rope Jute cord and this is from a plant nobody can get high on...</p>
<p>Paper is certainly not infinitely recyclable and I have not ignored the fact that some paper is recycled. If I had I would have lost my job years ago. Yes some paper fiber is recycled but unfortunately very little and what does the majority is mostly recycled only once. It is not through indifference that most paper ends up in landfill. Paper that has been in food contact is not recycled; wax coated cardboard is not recycled. Paper fibers are gradually degrading as they are reprocessed and reused; they degrade in use by the same processes that lead to their rapid decomposition in landfill.<br>It may surprise you to know that the greatest market for paper recyclate is Chinese toilet paper (where I have had personal contact) and it certainly is only used once there.</p>
<p>Hi Jim,</p><p>How is it exactly that plastic bags will end up in the ocean?</p><p>It seems that all methods to carry groceries have their disadvantages. Producing and shipping a paper bag to carry groceries is certainly more environmentally harmful than a plastic bag. Using the Chinese store-brand thick &quot;re-useable&quot; bags has issues of it's own. These are made from plastic and become smelly/moldy. They last for a few weeks at most in our home. You have to remember to keep them with you when you go shopping which is certainly not convenient. They are wasteful and not recyclable.</p><p>Thin film plastic bags as used in this Instructable ARE recyclable. They can be saved up and brought into many supermarkets which is what we do.</p>
<p>First of all, see my comment to <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Recycle-Plastic-Bags-Into-Usable-Plastic-Sheets/?ALLSTEPS#CLRSKCQI8K12GT5" rel="nofollow">jim_lewis1</a>.</p><p>As far as environmental pollution, these plastic bags are so light they get whisked to wherever the prevailing winds take them. They interfere with wildlife and are just a general environmental nuisance. </p><p>For shopping I use the cloth reusable bags and toss them in the laundy them occasionally. They last for ever.</p>
<p>You're right about that. Where are you getting your reusable bags? B/c mine don't last long either. Laundering breaks them down even faster. I definitely do not recommend buying them from where you shop, I don't know WHAT they're made of but I bet it ain't from renewable resources.</p>
<p>I bought most of mine at Trader Joe's. Whole Foods and Sprouts have them too, as do many supermarket chains. They are made from a sturdy cloth and I yet have one go south.</p>
<p>Whether or not these plastic bags are recyclable, the vast majority of people don't recycle. This 'ible doesn't suggest a particular dogma around reduce/reuse, rather shows a useful conversion of what is otherwise Trash. Also, get up to date on your facts regarding these bags ending up in the ocean: <br><br>&quot;What is the Pacific Garbage Patch?</p><p>Simply put, it's a swirling mass of plastic in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is big enough to qualify as the planet's largest landfill. Roughly located in an area between 135&deg; to 155&deg;W and 35&deg; to 42&deg;N, much of the world's trash has accumulated into this part of the Pacific Ocean based on the movement of ocean currents. (http://bit.ly/plasticIsland)</p>
Educate yourself:<br>http://www.plasticoceans.net/
<p>You should know not to feed the trolls, it just makes them worse. We, the &quot;sane&quot; people, who hold on to plastic bags hoping one day that someone will recycle them, know that this is a GREAT idea, I was going to buy plastic sheets for my molding projects, but now I will bake my plastic bags into sheets.</p>
<p>By making plastic sheets from plastic bags, one is REDUCING personal consumption by not having to purchase plastic materials for project enclosures, etc. So this project incorporates the first two steps of the mantra. If one recycles the leftover scraps from this process, then all 3 steps are incorporated. </p>
<p>Hi!</p><p>Is there any particular reason for ironing first and not just skipping to the oven phase?</p><p>Thanks!</p>
Ironing is a faster method. It also works better for making thinner sheets. You don't need to use the oven method on anything less than 20 sheets. But if you wanted to make thick rigid plastic, you could go straight to the oven.
<p>Anytime I melted plastic of any sort by accident, the fumes were horrible. I had to open all the windows for fear of my animals breathing it in. Seems to me this would be toxic. Why can't we just use and re-use and re-use canvas bags purchased for this purpose. I have 3 and a string bag and do not need to use bags from stores. Also it is true that plastic bags and fishing line hurt wildlife, recently two geese were stuck together by getting their feet stuck in a plastic bag, and a kind stranger disentangled them. Same with marine life. They also find them in sea life's stomachs. Horrendous.</p>
<p>クール!</p>
<p>I would like to have some definite information on the UV resistance of this plastic, to know if the items I could make would last outdoors.</p><p>Also, Wikipedia says HDPE can be used as 3D printer filament. Do you think this recycled stuff would work ?</p>
<p>You could always paint your project with paint that contains UV protection and insure that you have sealed it from oxygen. This would allow your project to last much longer in outdoor use.</p>
HDPE is extremely problematic when used for 3D printing filament. HDPE is very viscous and sticky when melted. It also shrinks a lot when cooled. That is why most 3D printers use PLA or ABS.
<p>All polyolefins degrade in UV and oxygen and most have additives to improve their resistance to the environment and heat during processing. It makes little sense to have the additives to protect against UV and oxygen in polymers used to make bags that are intended to break down in the environment, but as far as I know no manufacturers have made the step of leaving out the additives. This would require a different polymer manufacturing stream as most of the additives are added as the polyolefin is made.</p><p>Having said that, even with a typical additive package all polymers will eventually break down. Manufacturers don't want polymer products to last for ever in use as they would do themselves out of a job. Ironically polymers last much longer buried in anaerobic garbage dumps protected from oxygen and UV.</p>
<p>I love these kinds of ideas in principle, and find myself doing such projects but in the long run this kind of small scale recycling is a net negative. The energy required to iron these sheets together, or post-fuse in the oven is more than required to make a new bag. A plastic bag requires about <a href="http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article212004?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2004&num=&view=" rel="nofollow">500kJ of energy</a> or about 140Wh to make from the natural gas in the ground to your store and is about the same as having your iron or oven running for 10 minutes. Reduce, reuse, and at the end of usefulness industrial scale recycling or even power generation through combustion of these bags is the way to go. These bags as a petroleum product are actually a fairly energy dense fuel. Will the car of the apocalypse run on bags? Can you imagine Mad Max harvesting windblown bags from a fence to fuel his Interceptor? One can dream...</p>
<p>This is a great comment. I guess it depends what they are used for. My work shed needs a new roof. Would this be a feasible material instead of standard asphalt shingles? </p>
<p>The shed is shaded year round. I'm sure the sun would be brutal on these otherwise.</p>
<p>My problem with your industrial scale recycling proposal is I get no personal gain myself when my post consumer waste is industrially recycled. With something like this I end up with a plastic sheet that I might use. Everything I put into my recycle bin is making someone else rich though.</p>
To do this on a larger scale there is a device called a bedding iron. It's a set of steam rollers you run a whole bedsheet through. That and some sort of bag cutting jig to make that task less arduous, and you could do quite a bit of it.
<p>Sounds like a cottage industry to me, go for it and let us know how it works out.</p>

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Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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