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Decrease plastic recyclables volume, possibly a shredder? Answered

We recycle everything that our county accepts, and by far, the plastics take up more space than anything else.  There is a large amount of air volume inside and between bottles.  I've seen the trick where you compress the bottle and then screw on the lid, but this isn't practical for a lot of containers.  What I would like to see would be some way to reduce a plastic container to smaller pieces that would take up less space.  It needn't be ground into pellets, just cut small enough to reduce the wasted air volume.

I've thought of two possibilities, but I'm open to other suggestions.  One is some kind of motorized shredder that would grind/cut the plastic.  The other is a large container, similar to the slap-chopper kitchen gadget, that would have blades to slice the plastic.

I have three main requirements.  It must be more convenient than taking scissors or a knife and manually cutting up the bottle.  It must be able to handle most common plastic bottles up to large laundry detergent size, and reduce their overall volume.  The third is it must be fairly safe to use.  We will be adopting soon and I don't want to have to worry about small children falling into the bottle grinder.  :-)



Best Answer 8 years ago

As Re-design says, sorting big lumps of recyclable material is much easier.

Maybe a strong mangle to reduce containers to "plates" that stack easily in your bin?

You could even heat the rollers, but the energy expenditure might negate the benefits of recycling.

to answer the worry of identification by the recycling company i would consider a baler (homemade of course) . This would make things more compact and be much safer than shredding in a house with small children. This could be done with a barrel and a jack and some imagination.

You need something like this 

Ask your local recycling services.

Some of the folks doing "commingled recycling" have automatic techniques for separating different materials. Those _might_ be able to sort shreds.

But in general, they want to know what they're getting, which means they need to know what each piece came from, which means they want it attached to the piece that has the plastic identification number... which means shredding would make it un-recyclable.

I agree with the advice that you just get more/larger bins/bags. Or reduce at the source -- switch to reusable containers whenever possible, buy things with an eye toward minimum amounts of packaging waste, and so on.

Second contacting your recycling service.  It is very likely that they won't take plastic that can't be readily identified (ie:not shredded).

What exactly is the difficulty with having a lot of volume?  Do you have to take the recycling to the center yourself? (My local recycling service will provide as many bins as I can use free of charge, but I have no idea how widespread that is.)


8 years ago

You may want to check this video out.
Its an 110v wood chipper and it looks like it works great shredding bottle caps for a contest.
I did see that they are close to $900 but a used one would work once you clean it.

What are you doing with these?
I don't see an advantage unless the recycling vehicle has to make two trips because it can't fit everything in.


A couple of thoughts I have about this.  If this stuff is actually going into the ground then air pockets are not a bad thing.  It helps those things that are decomposing do it faster.  Not the plastic of course but the bio matter.

But if it is really getting recycled then as a recycler I would rather have the plastic items still whole.  It's much easier to sort as whole items instead of shredded pieces.

But if you really want to shred/reduce the "wasted" space you could try one of the old fashioned "guillotine" paper cutters.  But what you really need is a small industrial strength shredder machine.  And then keep it in a locked closet so that you can keep it away from nosy/exploring fingers.