Introduction: Craft Material From Non-recyclables

About: I would have to admit to having a creative and inquisitive nature, my mind is never really at rest. In 2000 I built my first High Voltage Device (Dimmer SW Ignition Coil / Then A Solid State Tesla Coil - My t…

We live in a world today where consumerism is king, out with the old in with the new is it's sales pitch. As I am a protagonist for environmental responsibility, I find it hard the fathom why we produce and circulate certain materials that have to potential to injure, maim and even kill wildlife, through irresponsible distribution or end of use littering around the planet. No one is willing to go back 50 Years as everyone in a certain capacity has got use to consuming said materials namely Plastics it's use in the food industry from food containers, as film and its use wrapping. This is just one area, there are many more uses.

As regards to recycling, the magic triangle, made up of three arrows and Identifying number, form it's recycling code , this is great!!!! but still, only a small percentage of plastic is recycled, it could be a lot more but we will not be discussing the attitudes of people who think it's a waste of time or even worse, it won't make a difference. The reason for this project, is to prove that even someone without a recycling plant can recycle materials, Which on the packet say ' Currently Not Recycled' which is totally beyond me -where does it go? Burnt, Buried or Dumped in another country........Correction! Indonesia is now sending it back!!!!!

In this instructable, I will be showing step by step instructions, proving that you can recycle these non-recyclable films & Non-paper cup from coffee outlets (plastic composite)

Step 1: Gathering and Preparing the Materials

Unfortunately I use plastic now and then for various reasons, but I will look for that recycle code!!!, in this project the material I am recycling has no recycle code !- it has a 'prohibited for recycling symbol instead'! [Image 2].

I chose to collect films with the same characteristics, [the film tares and it not elastic], it is [very transparent, with no opacity] and it is [very smooth but crispy when you screw it up] I also used vegetable and salad packaging.....

*****It is more than likely LDPE, as LDPE is hard to recycle due to its durability and toughness, it resists chemical breakdown and requires a ton of energy to recycle it. This has something to do with its non- linear structure and inability to be crystallised....It has a melting point of 130-160 oC and a flash-point of around 350oC. It is also non-toxic a long as the temperature remains with in the scope of its melting point.*****

Tools: Protection: Hammer, Gloves, Tin-opener, Old Butter-Knife, Empty tomato-Tin, ceramic Saucer, Extractor Fan /Ventilation.


Preparation, using a heat gun or a gas flame [Cooking hob] I decided to reduce the bulk of the film packet as to make life easier *****All must be carried out in a well ventilated area***** it can get slightly fumy!!!!

Fold/ condense the packet into a third [Fold left 1/3 and Right 1/3 into the middle 1/3] next wearing gloves or being very careful Hover the end of the packet 3-4" above the gas rotating 180o until packet starts to shrink then fold in on itself a section until you end up with a square. [Image 3], you will get the hang of it....

I used about 20 packets roughly 60-70 gms, next when you have a few condensed square pieces of plastic take a good sharp pair of meat scissors, open squares and cut into smaller pieces. [Image 4]....

Step 2: Cooking the Material

It looks like we will be cooking the material, but we are merely trying to melt and consolidate the material as we add it, checking every couple of minutes.

In [Image 1] we see the gas flame is at its lowest and [Image 2] only 1/3 or the tin is loaded. It is important you have ventilation as some strange smells like a burning candle will be noticeable, this is okay -However if you have a candle just put out smell!! [Candle smoke] take of the gas for a min, or turn it down more] !!!

******When things start to get going, I use a bottle to apply pressure to compress the unconverted material with the molten material, using a butter knife I press the edges down firmly [you start to feel it become elastic] see and compare [Images 5-6 to image 3-4]

When the level has dropped add some new material to the molten film and using the empty glass bottle press to consolidate and again using a knife push down the sides[Image 7-8]

###### You may notice a little smoke, I would take off the heat and place vessel onto ceramic saucer [Periodically] and using a knife move around the mass to consolidate more material [The melt has the consistency of chewing gum or soft toffee]

Step 3: Reaching Your Goal

About 25 minutes in we are near to completing the task - At this point we should have a chewing gum consistency -rotate the mass 180o and check to see if there are any large unconverted pieces, if not, take the original tin lid and place inside the tin and push down slowly with the bottle. At this point turn the heat off and place the bottom of the tin into a bowl off cold water [Image 1]. You will hear cracking and popping sounds as the melt contracts as it sets hard. [Image 6]

At this point I would leave for 15 minutes because plastic film has a similar heat capacity to toffee and oil and if you take it out of the water it will become hot again.....

Now turn tin upside down and take the lid off with a tin-opener - next pry off the lid (stubborn) [Image 2-3] after this the side of the tin may also need to be opened to free our piece of solid.

Once the other mould forming cover [tin lid inside] has been removed [Image 4] we see what we have made [Image 5-6]

I took this piece and put it into a friends lathe -it turned out brilliantly - I feel there are many things you could form with this material with tools and inventive idea, for crafty gift purposes.

I think this is better option than its current destination, being Burnt, buried or discarded.............

Step 4: How to Recycle Paper Drinking Cups & Sandwich Boxes

Recycling take-away Paper & Plastic composite Tea & Coffee Cups & Sandwich Boxes....This cup is a generic design which employs a plastic coated element covered with an outer paper insulating layer-so the beverage keeps warm and protects the consumer from being burnt at the same time. I have never seen a recycle code on these cups and would image landfill and incineration are also the end destination for this cup Or is it ?

[Image 1-2] shows the outer insulation layer, which is very easy to peel off....! this exposes the element [Plastic Coated Cup Image 3]

On [image 4] the cup opened down the seam and then the bottle cap is torn off. Next the cup is soaked in water for a few hours, a overnight is good if you have the the plastic coating can be coaxed into tearing off the paper substrate, slowly does it or it can tear off the paper as seen in [image 5]

When all the paper has been soaked sufficiently, it can now be liquidised and used for making paper pulp for modelling or for making paper itself but this can be very tedious as the fibres are still quite large.

but it proves that even things that are off the recycle list can still be converted into useful materials...

Step 5: Sandwich Box Recycling

Like the paper cup, sandwich boxes have a generic design to facilitate production, distribution and consumption of the product. This packaging also employs a plastic film and paper composite, Plastic is used to keep the contents hermetically sealed (air tight), the paper adds structure, rigidity and allows for the information, decoration to be displayed on the outside. I prefer paper bags maybe waxed would prevent spoilage like the plastic.

To prevent all of this material ending up at an incineration or landfill plant we can salvage the paper, again there are no recycle codes present on this item, as this is a composite material and hard to process.

As before a few hours soaking the material can be separated and a little paper recovered for paper making or paper mache or sculptures pulp.