I’m glad you’re taking the time to read this, thank you. I’m a retired age and disability pensioner with some technical and mechanical chops, and a head full of plans to tackle waste, recycling, re-use, and above all – Community – to get those things done. Many many many small projects can achieve what certain larger “recycling giants” couldn’t do – and then fell on their backsides before even melting one piece of plastic. I’m sure you’ve seen a few of those come and go, hey?

I’m working out of a rented home’s garage, and since everything has to start somewhere, I’m starting with plastic. What I’m trying to do is get a small community together that collects, cleans, processes, and recycles plastics right here in Wonthaggi. And perhaps right here in Inverloch too, and San Remo and Grantville one day and so on. I don’t want to start a franchise but I want there to at least be that one recycling centre in Wonthaggi. Aside from all the good vibes, it’ll be another selling point for the region. And it might inspire others to come along, take notes (take our notes too if they want them) and do the same thing in Meeniyan or Morwell or Moe.

Some things need to be done though – I need to be able to show working equipment and processes, and that will bring in people who want to do plastic recycling. And while I have my own hand tools, I don’t want to donate them to the cause. I want to use them to prototype or even make the equipment that is needed for plastic recycling and hand that to a community of people who’ve obtained a space to work in. I’d happily keep advising them and work with them when I can, but there are a few more pages to my Book Of Plans.

But here’s where you come in.

Being a Patron / Donor / Sponsor / Contributor.

I’m forever looking for parts for recycle/process machines, they aren’t cheap to buy, and even making them involves a lot of work that I can’t do on my own. That kind of things takes money, or someone who happens to have an old plastic grinder (or extruder, or injection press) in their other jacket pocket. This, in other words, is a section about you.

I’m trying to raise money for those sorts of things (and I’ll get to what I’m doing in a while, this section is about you…) and a monthly or one-time patronage donation is always welcome, but also – older tools and equipment are welcome, or pretty much anything, including space to do things or just store things until there’s a space to set up in. Know someone who has a shed-full of gear they never use? Offer to buy something off them for the recycle efforts.

Do you make a really top workshop dust/VOC extraction filter and want your product name to feature everywhere the recycling hub is mentioned? Engineering firm and feel like making 1) a set of hot/cold hydraulic sheet presses or 2) a plastic shredder or pelletiser or 3) a small-scale injection press for us? – All from freely available plans. – And getting your name out to a worldwide organisation that has high demand for such things? I’ve been a member there for almost a decade and have access to their worldwide marketplace and can make sure your production capabilities and showcase products get out there.

Do you have a bit of time to organise things? Are you someone or do you know someone that knows how to organise things? (By knowing me, you now know at least one person that’s useless at organising anything more complicated than a badly-run chook raffle. I am really hopeless at the meetings/minutes/balances stuff…)

I’m reasonable at designing things to achieve recycling, reasonable at the actual recycling, fairly good with my hands. I’m just not so good at public speaking, at organising preliminary meetings or setting up an organisation or anything of the sort.

Would you like to be hands-on with recycling, or with making the machines, or collecting plastic, cleaning and processing it for re-use? Are you good at writing up instructions or leaflets for public education? Would you like to learn?

It’s worth noting that besides doing (or trying to do) these things I am also a carer for my wife and coping with disability myself, and am not looking to make a living from this, just see it launched and operating.

You can text or phone me on 0491 075 808 with any questions suggestions or information. Or by email prawnheads@protonmail.com.ignoreevereythingafterthatlastdot

What I’m doing:

Okay – now it’s about me:

As mentioned above, I’m trying (pretty poorly, truth be told) to be all the hats and all the financing for these things. I’m committed to making all manner of recycling/re-use accessible to small community groups, large community organisations but I’m also not well-resourced.

I’m currently offering the people who are doing the 10c container refund scheme, a chance to take the bottle caps off and I’ll buy those. This is coming out of my pension, I don’t have any hidden benefactors in the wings. And once I have the plastic, I’m using it to develop processing that I can do with my very basic domestic equipment and hoping I’ll be able to sell a few recycled items in order to start procuring more suitable machines that will kickstart the community recycling group. I could always do with extra help though.

Next: I finally have (thanks to my landlord) a place large enough to use as a workshop.

Sidebar: I had a place, only 25% of the current garage shed in area, but it was mine. The original landlord gave me permission to erect a 3x3m shed and we bought a brand new one, has a slab cast, and had the new shed up for almost a year – just long enough to start moving tools and equipment in and setting up a few trestles – before the old landlord had a life crisis and sold the house to pay his divorce fees. And the new landlord divided the block and everything west of the line had to go. Yep…

Then the 1yo shed had to be hacked to fit a space slightly too small for it, languished there for almost two years because there was so much else to do and so much to store in it until after the block division was made final – and now I have a 6x6m shed and have to strike the old-new shed and just make the best of it. The new place will have to fit everything that was in the new-old shed plus what was in two other outbuildings (that also disappeaqred in the division) but there’s a much better space now. So in many ways very lucky, if belated by 3-4 years…

— H.i.s.t.o.r.y. . .

While I was waiting for things to finish, I started to build up some equipment – a table saw I cobbled together, an old mitre saw I bought at a garage sale, and so forth – and now I’m starting with hardwood pallets, making bird feeders and garden ornaments in order to buy material for specialised nesting and roosting boxes for local birds, bats, and possums, because many have been displaced when their trees and scrubland have been developed on. The deal is I build the ornaments for enough money to cover hardware and electricity and the rest goes to better materials and hardware, and then for every pro item sold I’ll donate one to the local wildlife organisations.

But that’s only the hobby, the relaxation time. I really want to develop the recycling hub, then add capabilities to it like making building materials for construction, made with plastics, metals, cardboard and paper, slof plastics, etc. There are literally thousands of other things that can be recycled and added to the products such a hub can create. And again, there should be that balance where for every four items sold, one should be made available to charities, nonprofits, ecological and welfare organisations, etc. The idea is just to pay a stipend to a handful of key staff and use any income above that and running costs for local projects.

Bonus Information:

A decade ago a Dutch student named Dave Hakkens started an organisation called Precious Plastic. They designed machines to recycle plastic and made the plans available online free for any use whatsoever, helped small groups around the world to make and use those machines. From a handful of people setting up PreshPlast, they now have tens of thousands of small shops, communities, and makers who recycle plastic and transform it into valuable / useful / beautiful objects and building materials. The technology is proven and viable.

However, their machines are expensive for smaller groups, and there are also people safely and effectively working with repurposed domestic appliances and various inexpensive items (car jacks, handmade plywood forms, etc) to recycle plastic. I’m using a sandwich press to make small thin flat sheets but a few hundred dollars makes a better quality sheet of around 30cm square and of more uniform quality. Such flat materials can be cut and shaped like wood and made into V/U/BOs.

But limiting the hub to just casting two kinds of pen holders and one kind of keyring carabiner is where most of the smaller hubs lose their relevance and support. You can only sell so many of those in your town and surrounding markets, and the Precious Plastic Marketplace Bazar is saturated with them too. There are dozens of PreshPlast-based small manufacturers making plastic sheets for building and architectural use.

What’s needed is a way to address local problems and local issues. Our lapwings (we call plovers) are losing their nesting areas to construction expansion. Also some people still feel the need to steal plover eggs for some reason. Once lapwings have laid eggs, a shelter place over them will serve to protect them from some predation, and hopefully shame the human predators into leaving the birds’ eggs alone. I’ve seen some shelters made from wood, but this is a perfect place for having a hybrid structure along with some signage to raise awareness.

We have some recycled plastic parks benches and tables but they’re generally made elsewhere and are therefore generic. A local product made with recycled local waste plastic would be far better suited. People wishing to erect fences would probably prefer to use recycled plastic fenceposts knowing that they’re practically immortal, taking tons of plastic out of the waste stream for decades, and saving the cutting-down of trees to make shorter-lived wooden posts.

Fishers (local and tourist) would probably welcome a basket fishing creel made with recycled plastic that would last them decades and also perhaps feature location name, or legal size scales and names for local fish. If you place bird nesting boxes out to save local species who are losing habitat, or bat houses near wetlands to control mosquitoes, the raincaps and roofs could easily be made from recycled plastic, and some informative placards made to be placed in the area alerting people to the fact that conservation efforts are taking place and to respect the local wildlife.

And all those things would require more than just plastics. You’d want someone capable of making molds and presses for signs, people who enjoy combining wood, metal, and recycled plastic to address such things.

I.e. this doesn’t have to be one huge workspace, items could move between garage workshops and community centres and local businesses that pledge to help out by performing one or more steps of the processes. Any money raised could cover Maker A’s use of sandpaper and respiratory masks for their help in producing possum houses in areas where tree felling has made them a nuisance to local homeowners.

The Fishermen’s Co-Op could use locally-made locally-branded food-safe baskets for placing on tables, and even sell them out of the store for profit. If a local authority finds an issue with beach erosion, perhaps a system of high-hardness blocks and posts can be designed to hold back the erosion. Such a system would be a thing that could be sold outside the local area for other places that have erosion problems, or (in the spirit of sharing and more widespread recycling of local plastics at other locales) just the plans and instructions made available for other hubs to make the same for their region.

There is already the Precious Plastic Marketplace Bazar to share such things, and once other PreshPlast hubs see these things, they’ll be able to also do these things wherever they are. But single-focus recycling hubs are limiting, which is why I’d like to launch the plastic recycling hub and then open them to also do artwork, conservation work, welfare work, public works, and so forth.

I do need YOU to join in and help launch what could become a whole new paradigm.

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