In December 2016 we applied to Aruba DOET. We had hoped to have a mini plastic recycling factory by February. The plastic beach party is a collective that aims to start a small scale recycling facility based on precious plastic’s open source designs. Since then we’ve prototyped products, crowdfunded, built machines, got sponsors, got a space, had a pilot recycling services and received a grant from Bank Giro Lotterij. Despite all of that we also encountered a lot of obstacles.

This story is about our struggle to be ready for Aruba DOET. Let me start by stating that we are not where we thought we’d be by March. We still don’t have electricity :(.Our shredder still needs parts. And a local bank is holding our grant hostage? Our goal for DOET was to turn 10 kilos of waste into 50 products in 1 day. That’s not what happened. What did happen is that volunteers helped us do our first round of experiments with our new machines. Which we just finished that week!

A series of unfortunate events

In the lead to Aruba DOET weird scheduling issues resulted in our groups splitting in two with half taking that day to build a roof and few leading the DOET volunteers (we now have a roof).

We applied for an event connection from ELMAR, yet the electricity was only connected on Friday and ELMAR did not connect 220, so we weren’t able to have a dry run and or use our compression oven.

During Aruba DOET our set-up included ‘hacked’ paper shredder to cut plastic with some old fashioned box cutters and scissors. An improvised compression oven using our toaster oven and a clamp. A filastruder, and a still untested extruder and injection mold.

In the building of the extruder and injection mold both steel barrels, which had to be imported from the US, were bent. The bent barrel meant that we could not use our 1 inch metal round bar to push out plastic we improvised by using 1 inch washers on an 8mm rod, this ended up bending.

We weren’t able to get aluminum blocks to Aruba on time so we made some wooden molds.

Half of the volunteers were kids. We hosted an info night, where only 2 of 17 volunteers showed up so we only find out about our young audience on the day of. So we spent a large part of the day paranoid that kids would get burned or cut. Thankfully, nobody got hurt.

What worked

The paper shredder did amazing, we got it at price-mart and fixed it up to take large parts, and it cut PET, PS & PP like a pro. Even though it said to have a 60 minute time limit it ran all day! Check out the instructable.

The filabot did great but we cheated and ran it with non-recycled ABS. We wrapped molten plastic wire around a bucket mold. I should mention that a few days later I tried it with shredded PLA from failed prints and it worked beautifully!

The wooden molds did not work with the injection mold, but we did create interesting poop sculptures! What better representation of foam boxes and plastic cups 🙂 The good news is we are now making mold out of recycled cans with Jamal Kahn! Our plunger got completely bent by a powerful little recycling volunteer, but we are now upgrading to a more robust model!

The large extruder got stuck when plastic got in between the drill bit and the barrel, the motor didn’t have enough torque to push it through. We now got a bigger motor donated from Art & Design and are upgrading the machine!

Lastly, our toaster oven, which I should mention we had used to melt plastic many times before, kept turning off, I think so many heating elements were demanding to much out of the temporary box that elmar provided. Thus the plastic never melted 🙁

To summarize, the team was split, the volunteers were younger than expected, we did not have a proper electricity connection, or a roof, our machines and molds were not ready! That being said everybody worked very hard we processed 5 kilos op plastic which are now all shredded and ready to be melted, we tested our machines and got valuable feedback. We showcased our machines on the street and got a lot of positive attention. And we would do it all again

Pure love for Aruba DOET! And next year nos ta ON atrobe 🙂