- Title: Designer turns plastic bags into skateboards
- Date: 6th July 2017
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (RECENT - JUNE 15, 2017) (REUTERS) WIDE OF GROUP OF SKATEBOARDERS AT SKATE PARK CLOSE OF SKATEBOARDERS / ONE STARTS SKATEBOARDING ON SKATEBOARD MADE FROM PLASTIC WASTE CLOSE OF SKATEBOARD MADE FROM PLASTIC WASTE BEING RIDDEN WIDE OF DESIGNER JASON KNIGHT (RIGHT) TALKING TO SKATEBOARDER (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASON KNIGHT, INDUSTRIAL DESIGN STUDENT AT BRUNEL UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "So, I've been working on a project that enables communities to make skateboard decks from recycled plastic. The idea is that recycling is kind of viewed as an inconvenience, not even an inconvenience; we all know it's the right thing to do but it doesn't have any direct reward. So I thought if people have a tangible reward like a skateboard or something physical that they immediately get in a reward for recycling it would incentivise people to do so." VARIOUS OF SKATEBOARDER RIDING SKATEBOARD MADE FROM PLASTIC WASTE CLOSE OF WHEEL NUTS BEING TIGHTENED ON SKATEBOARD MADE FROM PLASTIC WASTE (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASON KNIGHT, INDUSTRIAL DESIGN STUDENT AT BRUNEL UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "To make one of the boards there's about 1.8 kilos which I think is around 1,500 plastic bags. So it's quite a lot. But plastic bags aren't the only type of material that can go into it. It can be anything; car bumpers, it can be electronics housing, anything, anything."
- Embargoed: 20th July 2017 15:16
- Keywords: skateboard skateboarding plastic pollution waste plastic plastic bags Brunel University
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA0016OKVEQJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Plastic waste is a major environmental problem, clogging up landfill sites and polluting our oceans. Plastic shopping bags are one of the main culprits, but a design student has come up with a novel way to re-use plastic bags by turning them into skateboard decks.
By shredding around 1,500 plastic bags, or 1.8 kilograms worth (approx. 4 lbs), designer Jason Knight can turn the waste into a fully functioning skateboard deck using his self-built heated mould. The 22-year-old student at Brunel University hopes the novel approach to recycling will encourage people to see waste plastic as a useful commodity.
"We all know recycling is the right thing to do but it doesn't have any direct reward," Knight told Reuters. "I thought if people have a tangible reward like a skateboard for recycling it would incentivise people to do so."
Knight said the most time consuming and laborious task is the initial shredding of the plastic bags. So he built an automatic shredder to make the process more efficient. Using scrap metal from a junk yard he constructed a heating and pressing machine that turns the plastic fragments into a clay-like, malleable, material that can bind together.
"The base of the mould heats up to about 200 degrees (Celsius). You load all the material in, it takes between an hour and two hours to melt and about three hours to set. You finish it with grip tape and sand the edges," said Knight.
Sustained pressure moulds the plastic into a solid object and, with air pockets removed, creates a strong material with a unique mottled surface finish that resembles marble.
Surprisingly, Knight himself is not a skateboarder so took one of his finished boards for the professionals to try out at a skatepark on London's Southbank.
"People really like the idea; no one's seen anything like it before. They like the flexibility, it means you can jump higher," said Knight, adding he's picked up a few tips on where to improve the design. "The thing I need to address most is the weight; it's important for doing tricks that I try and bring the weight down."
Skateboard decks are traditionally made out of plywood from Canadian maple trees, and typically cost anywhere between 40-60 pounds (50-75 U.S. dollars). Professional skateboards can go through dozens of decks a year, while amateur riders can find the cost of replacing decks prohibitive. Knight believes his idea could be easily implemented by local communities to encourage young people to collect enough waste plastic in exchange for use of a press similar to the one he built.
He added that other types of plastic that often end up in landfill could also be broken up and melted down in a similar way. "Plastic bags aren't the only type of material that can go into it. It can be anything; car bumpers, it can be electronic housing, anything," he said.
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