Success stretches the bottle-top recycling boom

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Queanbeyan’s Campbell Street Childcare Centre director Tanya Latter with Eve Gordon, left, and Lucy Fahey show some of their collected lids.

“Please don’t stop collecting; we are just asking that organisations hold off on sending bottle caps for a month or so, until we can catch up,” the founder of Envision Hands tells reporter APRIL MARCH.

THE founder of a Victorian charity turning bottle tops into limbs for kids has thanked the Canberra community for its “overwhelming” support, as it battles to process a backlog of bottle tops.

Envision Hands is a Melbourne-based company that upcycles bottle lids destined for garbage tips into mechanical hands and arms, using 3D printing.

Its founder Sean Teer says the charity is slowing down bottle top collections across the ACT and NSW as it works to whittle down its stockpile.

“We have far surpassed our goal of two million caps with over three million collected in Victoria alone,” said Mr Teer.

“There are some 10 million bottle tops sitting outside Victoria, we are currently looking at how to get them processed interstate instead of them coming here to Melbourne.

“This is a fantastic effort and we are extremely grateful for the bottle caps, but now we have to focus on processing the tops and making them into mechanical aids.”

And that’s no easy feat.

“Once the bottle caps are delivered to Envision Hands we shred them, and they are made into a filament,” Teer said.

“That is then fed through a 3D printer with a software program, and we end up with ‘fingers’.

“It sounds simple, but it’s a lengthy and arduous process compared to normal 3D processes because the plastic that we’re working with is quite difficult – but the guys are doing a fantastic job in putting it together.”

Mr Teer said the project has been “overwhelmingly” supported across the Canberra and Queanbeyan region.

“It’s gone gangbusters,” Mr Teer said. “Canberra has really jumped on board. 

“Please don’t stop collecting; we are just asking that organisations hold off on sending bottle caps for a month or so, until we can catch up.”

In less than three months, more than 21,000 lids have been collected across Canberra and Queanbeyan, largely through the work of Canberra charity, Lids4Kids.

Lids4Kids founder Tim Miller.

Lids4Kids works in partnership with Envision Hands; the foundation’s brainchild, Tim Miller, processes thousands of bottle caps each week from his Aranda home. 

“Tim’s been the driving force for collections outside of Victoria,” said Mr Teer.

“He’s as passionate as I am to never see another bottle lid in landfill again.”

A sentiment shared by the community groups and organisations who have jumped on board.

“We’ve had a wonderful response, our families, kids and staff are really getting into it,” said Queanbeyan’s Campbell Street Childcare Centre director Tanya Latter.

“It’s important that we build generosity and care for others into our learning; and a part of our curriculum is sustainability, and so this is a lovely way to give back to our community and the environment.”

Milk, water or soft-drink bottle tops are the best to collect. The bottle lids must have a 2 or 4 written on the underside and must be rinsed out.

Donation drop-off locations include: Aranda Holden Rally Team; St Thomas Aquinas, Charnwood; Farrer Primary School; Harrison School OSH Club; Nicholls Gold Creek Primary; Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, Nicholls; Campbell Street Childcare Centre, Queanbeyan and Harris Park Preschool, Queanbeyan.

Tim Miller’s Canberra-based Lids4Kids is asking the ACT government, the Federal government and beverage companies to collectively donate the $600,000 needed buy machines to shred the lids and turn the plastic into items for children living with disabilities. 

“Close the loop, give us money so your products don’t go to landfill. Little kids have stepped up and said: ‘No, we don’t want this to go in the bin.’

“Give us money for the machines so we can recycle them,” Tim told “CityNews” last month. 

When Lids4Kids gets the shredders, Tim says it will train people who are living with a disability to use them.

“Then the pellets that come out of them can be sent to plastics workshops and made into any product.” 

Meanwhile, a community-based fundraising appeal has been launched to help Envision Hands buy machinery to process its bottle lids. 

Donations can be made via gofundme.com/envision-hands

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