Our New Plastic Recycling Machine
If you haven't already heard from my previous blog post, we have recently acquired a bunch of machinery and equipment from an old toy factory in Taranaki, New Zealand. For the last 20 years, the factory has been fairly unused and sits as it did when the factory wound down its operations in the 90’s.This week I have been sorting through the place, attempting to find some order to it all. It has been overwhelming! I discovered this old plastic chipper discretely sitting in a corner with a tarpaulin draped across it. It looked as though this corner of the building has experienced some leaks over the years which did concern me.
With a rag and a can or CRC, I gave the chipper a good dust off - inspecting if it was all ok. All the wiring was intact and mechanically it seemed fine so I plugged her in, pressed the start button and jumped back as she started up.
The chipper excited me the most out of all the machines in the factory. We are in an age where plastics are no longer desired for recycling and much of it is going into the landfill even if it can be recycled. The chipper gives us an opportunity to recycle plastic we consume and reinvest it into new products that we are developing in-house.
I had a hunt around for some old milk bottles (made from high density polyethylene) to shred. On their own they're too big for the chippers hopper, so took to them with the band-saw. I cut each bottle into 5 or so strips which seemed on the small side for the chipper - but didn't want to overwork it.
8 milk bottles took about a quarter of an hour to shred - feeding in pieces one by one, taking care not to overfill the hopper or get them stuck in the shoot. The machine worked great! Not a glitch in its function, although I do suspect the blades need a sharpen.
While I was shredding the milk bottles, Stacey, an old factory worker that's been here for a few decades came in with amusement that he hadn't seen the machine going in over 15 years. He explained that they used to regrind a defected injection moulded part back to virgin material for remoulding. He remembers last using it when he needed to shred a bunch of rubber tires off a trike. Small chunks of the black rubber could still be found in the machine when I cleaned it out.
The chipped up HDPE milk bottles had turned slightly brown. Over the years that the machine had been sitting around, the internals had formed surface rust which was rubbing off onto the white plastic. Hopefully this will wear off with some more use, I may strip it all down for a clean if it continues.
I’m really excited to develop some new products which we can showcase our recycled plastic. Watch this space.