Experiment #5 – Mixed plastics

I collected a bunch of bottle caps from the Clean-up Burley Griffin Day and decided to try another Plastic Experiment with what proved to be mixed plastics i.e. multiple plastic types.

They came from a range of bottles and some were really old. So, I really didn’t know what kinds of plastic they were made of. However, since all of my previous experiments seem to melt fairly consistently, I thought I should try doing something with this plastic too, betting that an old Coke bottle lid would be made of something similar to milk bottles.

But I was wrong. I found that the usual 180C melting temperature for HDPE was only slightly melting most of the other pieces. So, I turned up the temperature and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the results were mostly of burned HDPE #2 and half melted other plastic(s) – maybe PP #5. Furthermore, the higher temperatures actually melted the silicon mould too, resulting to it sticking to the melted plastic and destroying my mould.

Burned plastic and moulds
My burned moulds

This Plastic Experiment is a really good example of why recycling plastics is so hard when there are so many variations of plastic with different properties including melting point – creating mixed plastics to be sorted. I still have a few bottle caps left and may try again, but first I have to order a new mould. Sigh…

Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day

A year ago, I started Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day in my home city of Canberra, Australia. As a long time paddler, I was sick of seeing rubbish in every waterway I had ever paddled in around the world.

While I obviously wasn’t the one who put the rubbish in the water, I felt like this important natural asset to our community was worth the effort of trying to clean it up. So, I first checked to see if anyone else was doing somehing about this problem. When I found out the answer was no for most of the Lake, I asked like-minded groups if anyone wanted to help.

Last year, six groups raised their hands. Then, with some support from Clean-up Australia, the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government, this was how the event started.

This past Sunday, we did the clean-up for a second time. We were able to get 138 volunteers and thirty something boats to collect about 104 bags of rubbish plus lots of big stuff that didn’t fit into bags. And afterwards, I took 350+ of bottles and cans to the container scheme to be recycled.

Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day
Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day 2019

Now, to organise this event takes a huge amount of my time and others. Why should I commit to another year of managing this growing clean-up effort when I’m not making a dime from it?

Most people wait for someone else like the government to do something, and therefore just complain about it like a bloke on Facebook did. However, the ones that actually make a difference are the people, like our volunteers, that just go out there and do something.

If more people decided to take on responsibilities like this when they see a need, think how much better the world would be.