It’s a common misconception among many that bottle caps can be recycled.
They’re plastic, a No. 2 plastic, and most carry the recycling symbol.
“So, people look at the recycling symbol and put them in the recycling bag. But the recycling depots (in this province) don’t sort them with the rest of the plastics, they actually get thrown in the garbage,” said Lynn Howse.
The plastic caps don’t biodegrade, instead they break down into microplastics and leech into the soil and water, ending up in the foods people eat and the water they drink.
Howse, who works with the Western Regional Waste Management, and is the owner of Corner Brook toy store Kindercastle, calls it a pandemic.
“It’s important to me as an environmentalist to make sure that we’re doing what we can for the environment." — Lynn Howse
Looking into the difference between bottle caps and the bottles they came from, the only thing she could determine was a possibility the resins used to make them were different and there’s no mass market for coloured plastics.
That left her thinking there must be some way to recycle or repurpose the caps.
“It’s important to me as an environmentalist to make sure that we’re doing what we can for the environment,” she said.
She found in her research the caps can be melted down without producing any harmful toxins, gases or emissions.
So, Howse and her friend Denise Hynes, owner of Crimson Art Studio, did a test project. They melted down some bottle caps and made a plank of plastic wood.
“Once we found out that we could actually do that, the idea was born.”
That idea is Rewind Plastics, a business the two have started to turn disposed bottle caps into something new.
“Plastics are everywhere, everything that we could use on a daily basis is made of plastic. So, the possibilities are endless,” said Howse.
“And we’re just trying to do one small part to help out and create some cool objects just for fun.”
Rewind Plastics was supposed to be a hobby, but over the Nov. 22-24 weekend Howse and Hynes pitched their idea at the Jose Lam Startup Weekend held at Grenfell Campus.
There, with the help of a few other people, they won the business pitch competition.
“It’s an innovative solution to a worldwide problem and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” said Howse.
As part of the pitch they brought along a prototype of a coaster and the plank they made.
They challenged the judges to try to break the plank and its strength prompted one judge to suggest they try making a shovel as the plank seemed sturdier than any of the shovels she had at home.
Howse said making a test shovel with an injection mold is now on their list.
“And we’ll see how well it stands up against our winter.”
They’re also looking at making notebooks, combining the plastic cover with handmade paper.
“And we’re just trying to do one small part to help out and create some cool objects just for fun.” - Lynn Howse
Howse has been asking people, companies and recycling depots to save bottle caps and is setting up drop-off centres across the island.
She’s confident they’ll have no trouble getting the materials they’ll need.
Rewind Plastics will soon have a website and can be found on Facebook now.
Howse said their plan is to use the Facebook page to provide education and resources on a zero-waste lifestyle.
They’ll also be inviting local artisans to participate, to show how they live a zero-waste lifestyle and the products they create.
“So, not just necessarily how to reduce, reuse, rethink, reclaim plastics, but also looking at what you’re doing in your daily life. What you’re bringing home, how you’re bringing it home and how you’re repurposing those objects to keep them out of the landfill.”
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