After years of public concern, soft plastics are still a major threat to the environment and pose significant challenges to the recycling Industry. It is a regulation in Australia that plastic bags cannot go on the recycling bin as they can affect the machinery, therefore it is now known that recycling on its own is not enough to deal with the plastic waste problem.
This document aims to demonstrate and share how upcycling can be a highly creative and affordable solution to re-purpose soft plastic waste, in order to reduce the number of precious materials that go to landfill. It focuses on improving a DIY method of transforming LDPE and HDPE plastic bags using an iron to make flat sheets of materials that are lightweight, durable and water resistant, and that I have been employing to make and sell products like backpacks and accessories for the last 10 years.
The method has been used by many people due to its accessibility and being an affordable way to transform trash into something functional. However, this method does not utilise all the technical properties of the materials.
To exploit the moulding characteristics of these materials, a number of tools were created to test how the materials can be shaped and textured using common plastic forming techniques like compression moulding, vacuum forming and embossing.
The outcomes of these experimentations determined several new possibilities to give form to the base plastic materials. And following the years of research, these new techniques were compiled in the form of an upcycling plastic bags manual book that I intend to share with the DIY community that works with plastic bags specifically.
On this basis, people that are dealing with soft plastics can access these techniques to enhance their practice and produce and promote the use of soft plastics as a medium for product manufacture that can complement current recycling processes, and reduce the number of soft plastics that go to landfill or even energy hungry recycling processes.
Upcycling soft plastics clip.
2 minute video explaining my research and the methods that were developed this year for my honours project in the reflection and exposition class.
My Honours Report
All of the information of my process and developments for my final honours year at RMIT that open many new doors to making more innovative and functional products from plastic waste.
Upcycling plastic bags
A complete guide to the processes I have developed in the last 10 years to upcycle plastic bags into products. See step by step processes backed by video tutorials that will show you how to use disposed High and Low density polyethylene plastic bags as a medium for product manufacture.
Headphones made in 3D CAD using Fusion 360
rendered on Vred.
Advanced CAD 2021