Edinburgh International Science Festival – Recasting Plastic

This year we were invited this year to run a One day workshop at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Get creative with recycling! Festivals and events produce a large amount of waste: food packaging, flyers, plastic bags, bottles and wristbands. Many of these items are made from HDPE and PET recyclable plastics. This workshop was designed to turn that waste plastic into new design objects. The process is a small-scale version of industrial recycling: the waste material is sorted, shredded, heated and finally reformed.  This workshop takes you through the processes involved in turning a waste plastic bottle into new designs.


First we had to collect and sort the plastic.  We had a huge amount of help from Thames 21  to collect waste plastic that washes up on the bank of the Thames at low tide. We also collected plastic waste from various events across London and local coffee shops. Only HDPE plastic can be used in this workshop.


We developed a design for a mould that replicated the the Kawai Tsugite joint. A block of Aluminium was CNC’d to form the base of the mould and aluminium L-bar was used for the sides. This process allows for the precision required to allow this joint to work.


Both casting the joints and joining them to timber requires molten plastic. HDPE melts at 170 degrees Celcius and does not give off any toxins. Taking appropriate precautions, it can therefore be used in a domestic or school context.


Each joint used 15 melted bottle caps and 1 milk bottle. We cast 50 joints before and during the workshop, taking the students through each stage of the process.


The second part of the workshop was spent attaching these joints to a disassembled range of IKEA furniture that the students could then reconfigure. The goal; to build a structure as tall as possible.


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Thames 21

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