Recycled Plastic Chairs from Milk Pouches: Promoting Resource Efficiency among Thai Youths
Publish On 19, Nov 2020 | Recycled Plastic Chairs from Milk Pouches: Promoting Resource Efficiency among Thai Youths
All Around Plastics has previously introduced the Waste-free Community Project, which seeks to cultivate the habit of using all resources to the greatest advantage, sorting waste to facilitate recycling, and converting scrap materials into something useful, which is a hallmark of the circular economy, as well as solve waste problems sustainably through the collaboration of all units of each community, from houses to temples, schools, waste banks, and municipalities. In this issue, we will take a look at the activities that Wat Khod Hin Mitraphap 42 School in Rayong provides to its students to help shape them into quality members of the community.
Launched by Chemicals Business, SCG in 2019, the Waste-free Community Project began with a survey of the types of waste generated in each locality and how it should be managed to bring the greatest benefit. It was found that a significant portion of school waste came from milk pouches as students drank milk daily, and because these packages are made of LLDPE, they could be recycled and further create value.
SCG has joined forces with the school to teach the students to identify different materials around them, especially the various types of plastics, as well as encourage them to make the most of all resources and sort waste as habits so as to ensure that the waste can be processed to the greatest advantage.
To enable the children to convert waste around them into something valuable, the school has created a learning station entitled Saving the World with Milk Pouches. When students finish their milk, they rinse and cut up the empty pouches and hang them up to dry at this learning station. Once dried, they are then sold to waste banks and recyclers.
In addition, the school has also set up the “Innovative Vegetable Garden,” where the wastewater from rinsing milk pouches is used to grow vegetables that become their lunch. Overweight students are recruited to operate stationary bikes that pump the water into sprinklers, allowing them to exercise while also taking care of the garden and showing them what a closed-loop resource recycling system looks like.
Recently, SCG has created a product prototype that makes use of these milk pouches: a recycled rotomolded plastic chair made from LLDPE milk pouches. Rotomolding has been chosen as it is an ideal manufacturing process for a product that has thick walls and an irregular shape. To produce this chair, milk pouches are shredded into 3-5 mm. particles, which are then melted with other plastic resins and reformulated into a recycled plastic resin. The derived resin is then grounded into powder and placed inside the mold, which is heated to the appropriate temperature and rotated by the machine. Emerging from this process is a beautiful and sturdy plastic chair. Currently, each chair takes about 600 cleaned and dried milk pouches to make, but the team is still working on a new formula that will use more pouches and finding ways to make use of other types of plastic waste.
The plastic chair represents a tangible benefit of recycling; once properly managed, milk pouches, which used to pile up and produce a stench while waiting to be taken to a waste disposal facility, can be transformed into a functional product. All in all, apart from demonstrating how an efficient waste sorting process can help recover useful resources, the project also serves as an example for other schools as well as encourages them to start waste management initiatives and promote resource efficiency as advocated by the circular economy among Thais from a young age, which will in turn contribute to a more sustainable future for the country.
“Everything has intrinsic value. We only need to know how to make the most of it, sort waste, and dispose of it correctly. The recycled plastic chair is made possible because the students sort waste at source. To use their milk pouches to the greatest advantage, SCG has transformed them into beautiful and sturdy chairs for the students to use. These chairs not only show them that plastic waste can be put to good use again but also help reduce the amount of waste leaking into the environment.”
Managing Director, SCG ICO Polymers Co., Ltd.
“This is a new frontier of waste management education. Students used to donate the bottle caps they collected to prosthetic leg producers or collect bottles to give away for charity. However, Chemicals Business, SCG has successfully transformed the milk pouches that they have cleaned and dried into “recycled plastic chairs” that both the students and their parents can use. This shows everyone that even waste such as milk pouches that they consider useless can be turned into chairs. We have been asked if this also works with plastic scrap, and our answer is that it does. It certainly does.”
Director of Wat Khod Hin Mitraphap 42 School
Chemicals Business, SCG specializes in rotomolding and offers a comprehensive range of services, from product design based on requirements and applications, and mold design for specific types of plastic resin to formula development and adjustment as well as consultation with technicians.
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