Every type of plastic can be processed and upcycled using the following open-source methods and technologies. These alternative recycling methods and tech range from the simple and inexpensive to the complex and costly, beginning with Ecobricks and ending with the Precious Plastic machines. All of the methods and tech mentioned here are open to interpretation, experimentation, research and development.
We believe Ecobales (Ubuntu-Blox) to be the most important solution available here, in that every type of plastic can be used to make them. Ecobales deny no plastic and thus are a great first step in community plastic recycling. and thus they Ecobales offer a comprehensive waste management solution and should be the first priority of
Ecobricks are plastic bottles (or milk cartons), densely stuffed full of plastics and other synthetic materials. A stick is commonly used to pack Ecobricks at tight as possible. Any type of plastic can be used, but must be small enough to fit in the bottle opening. This makes Ecobricks ideal for dealing with soft plastics such as wrappers and bags in the kitchen or car. All materials should be clean and dry to prevent any mold or bacterial growth. Ecobricks can be used in a variety of ways to build furniture, insulate structures or displace the need for brick or concrete block.
Ecobales, invented by Harvey Lacey (USA), are compressed bales of bagged plastics that can be used as insulation materials or as a substitute for straw bales in structures. Like Ecobricks, every type of plastic can be utilized to make Ecobales. Larger plastics such as styrofoam pieces, crushed plastic bottles, and cut-up hard plastics (think broken plastic chair) can be bagged and baled, as long as sharp plastics are kept away from the walls of the bags used. Ecobales are made with wooden or metal compression machines which can be fabricated to custom sizes. As with Ecobricks, all materials in Ubuntu-Blox should be clean and dry.
EPIC FIBER CEMENT COMPOSITES
EPIC Fiber Cement Composites, developed by Dave Pennington (USA), are lightweight, insulating structural mixes made from cement, paper products, and shredded expanded polystyrene (EPS “Styrofoam”). EPIC can be used to pour slabs, plaster walls, or sprayed on reusable dome forms to create quick and extremely durable structures. EPS can be shredded in commonly available mulching and chipping machines and added along with paper to wet cement mixes. This is the only method that we support in regards to combining plastics with earthen or cementitious materials, and the reason is because it is an extremely strong material that offers insulation value and can be ground up and recycled back into more of itself. Basically, it is epic!
Originally developed and implemented by Dave Hakkens of the Netherlands, Precious Plastic is an open-source suite of plastic recycling machines for dealing with all types of hard plastics. This is the only recycling method that we advocate for in which plastic is melted. Hard plastics are sorted and separated based on type, then shredded to various sizes for use in several machines. The PP machines utilize heat and pressure to make all sorts of useful items and products from toys and gears to furniture pieces, plastic sheeting and building blocks. All the resources and guides can be found on their website!