Recycling Soft Plastic – Everything you need to know
A lot of plastic waste is not recyclable in your weekly recycling collected by your local council every week. So what can you do with the mounds of soft plastic bags or packaging that fills your bin and is taken to landfill to get into our ecosystem? Creating an Eco Brick is an easy way of recycling Soft Plastic, preventing it from filling your black bin and going into landfill.
What is an Eco Brick used for?
The EcoBrickL era has now started and lots of people and businesses across the world are making Eco Bricks and using them to create modular furniture, garden spaces, walls and even full-scale buildings. An Eco Brick is made by filling a clean plastic bottle (fizzy drink, water or squash bottles) with clean, dry plastic until it’s packed so tightly that it is so solid and strong it can be used as a building block. Eco Bricks contain a huge amount of soft non-biodegradable plastic waste that currently can’t be recycled and they reduce the number of new materials needed to make furniture, garden spaces, garden features, walls and buildings, the list goes on.
Many third world countries are now using eco bricks as the main components for new buildings and they are coming up with new ways to make use of them. They are used as building materials to create insulative structures and colourful furniture.
What is an Eco Brick?
An Eco-brick is a plastic bottle stuffed full of clean soft plastic making them a heavy, strong and solid building block.
How long with an Eco Brick last?
Eco bottles will last anything from 300 – 500 years if they are made correctly and packed tightly enough. They need to be filled so there is no space left at all with clean non-biodegradable plastic and this makes them versatile building blocks that can be used to build strong and sustainable structures.
Eco Bricks in the Community
One of our local schools have been making eco bricks for the children to learn more about recycling and the impact products and packaging is having on our environment and they plan to use their eco bricks to construct a play area in their playground. Is there something that you can do within your community to encourage people to start their eco-brick journey?
How do I make an Eco Brick?
Start by collecting all of your soft plastic including crisp packets, chocolate wrappings, toilet roll wrapping, vegetable bags, plastic bags. You will be amazed at how much you collect and how much room is left in your black bin before it is collected. If it’s food packaging then it needs to be clean and dry before it goes into the bottle. A tip is to clean and dry it as you go and then store it for when you start to fill your bottle. Take a small plastic bottle, we would always advise that you start off with a small bottle to start with so a small water or fizzy drink bottle. The bottle needs to be washed out and be completely dry. Make a note of the ml of the bottle just in case the outside wrapper comes off or it rubs off if it is printed on the bottle as you are filling it. The below gives you the weight your bottle needs to be at the end in grams.
|Plastic Bottle Size||Minimum Eco Brick Weight|
|500 ML||175 GRAMS|
|1,000 ML or 1 LITRE||350 GRAMS|
|1,500 ML or 1.5 LITRE||525 GRAMS|
|1,750 ML or 1.75 LITRE||613 GRAMS|
The next thing to do it cut up your soft plastic into rectangle squares or strips of all sizes ranging it from 2x2cm up 15x2cm strips. Start to add the plastic into your bottle in small amounts and use a long instrument like the end of a wooden spook to keep pushing the plastic down. Try not to do it with the bottle standing on a work surface as when you push down with your instrument you can damage the plastic bottle you are using and this will make it unusable. When you get to about 1/8th full weigh your bottle to check that it is 1/8 of your bottles end weight that you are aiming for.
The bottom of your bottle needs to feel hard not squishy to make it useable. It takes a long time and every tiny space needs to be filled with plastic, so be prepared to do it over lots of sessions as it won’t be filled in one.
Your end product will feel solid and heavy, much like a brick. There are lots of websites now where you can register your brick and companies are now starting to collect in local areas (search ‘eco-bricks, your area, collection/drop off points’ in google), or why not try making something out of them yourself.
You can see some amazing eco-brick ideas here.
If you don’t have the time to make an eco-brick then there are now lots of companies that have non-biodegradable plastic waste disposal drop off points which will use plastic instead of it going to landfill. When you start to collect your plastic you will be amazed just how much there is and how much room you will have left in your black bin at the end of the week. Just think how much plastic you are saving from going into landfill.
Some Scary Plastic Facts
- Did you know we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes? Plastic that is utilised for just a few moments, but left on the planet for several hundred if not thousands of years
- More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year, dramatically impacting our sea life
- Trash Travels estimates that plastic bags can take 20 years to decompose, plastic bottles up to 450 years, and fishing lines 600 years; but the reality is no one really knows how long plastics remain in the ocean and our ecosystem
- With exposure to UV rays and the ocean environment, plastic breaks down into tiny tiny fragments. Chlorinated plastic releases harmful chemicals into the sea and soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources and the ecosystem of the world. This can cause serious harm to the species that drink the water and gets into our water and food sources
- It really is that bad and we all need to start to reduce the amount of plastic that comes into our homes as well as recycling and reusing everything we possibly can
We supply eco-friendly, sustainable, reusable straws and drinking bottles for personal and trade use and you can see our range of products here.