Containment: Changing Plastic Bags to Blocks
I’m working on a project to create a device that could be used in homes or by businesses to contain the negative effects of plastic bags/films and straws. I’d love to tap into the collective brainpower of this forum to make the idea even better. As a disclaimer, I don’t believe this idea is a perfect solution – rather it’s meant as a stop gap to contain the negative effects of these plastics until better plastic alternatives become more widely used.
Plastic bags/films are nearly unavoidable – buy a shirt online? It comes in a plastic bag. Food? Plastic bags. Kitchen gadget? Also comes in a plastic bag. Similarly plastic straws don’t seem to be going away quickly enough. The worst part about this is that (at least in the US) most recycling programs can’t process these plastics as they jam the machines and don’t create much recyclable material. Plastic films are also more likely to get caught and blown away in the wind and have a much larger negative impact on wildlife then other plastic materials (confused for food, suffocates the animals, etc).
I’m in the process now of designing a product that could help reduce these effects and could be mass produced for use at home or in businesses (imagine something with the electrical needs of a 110v kitchen appliance). Users could stuff their plastic bags/film into it, close the door and hit a button that would then melt down the plastic into a block of plastic. This block of plastic would be smaller, less like to blow away, and less harmful to wildlife. I’d love to also have a setting so the product could be used to mitigate the harmful effects of straws on wildlife (again melt it into a block or perhaps heat it enough to soften and then press it. This straw option could be a good option for restaurants that still use plastic straws but want to reduce the negative impact.
I’d love to get thoughts/input from this community.
1) First, the initial idea – is it appealing and do you think it’s something the general population would be interested in?
2) If the idea takes off, I’d love to figure out an easy way for these blocks of plastic to make their way to Precious Plastic Recycling Spaces. Straws are nearly always made from Polypropylene but the blocks made from straws may have residual syrups (from soda) within them – could they still be used by PP businesses? Plastic bags/films are typically made from HDPE or LDPE but I don’t expect a “normal” user to separate their bags by type of plastic. Could PP businesses use plastic that is a combination of HDPE and LDPE?
3) Given that we’ll be melting these plastics into what is essentially a mold, is there a shape that could be used that would make the item instantly useful? For example imagine if the output of the machine were plastics blocks that can be used as building materials? That would be amazing! Our machines would be much smaller likely couldn’t be able to handle enough plastic at one time to create these blocks, but it would be amazing if a similarly useful material could be created by thousands of homes using this product and then donated so that they can be put to use.
Any productive thoughts, ideas, or guidance to improve and expand on this idea would be greatly appreciated!
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