The story about cleaning up beach, Making molds from aluminum cans, injecting plastic wastes and making merSEA bangles.

Hey guys, it’s Tender.
It’s been a while. Today, I’m going to tell you my story about me cleaning up beach in Minamisatsuma and injecting plastics that I picked up with a volunteer of JICA, Esau learning Precious Plastic here in Dynamic lab from Federated States of Micronesia. I already made molds from aluminum garbages,
and also shredded plastic garbages and injected before.
So we try both of two this time.
But it wasn’t as easy as picking up garbages at the street because normally marine plastic wastes are deteriorated because of UV rays and contain various materials which we don’t want such as salt, sand, and barnacles. Many people ask Precious Plastic Japan “I want to do something for marine plastic wastes.” So does what you do make any differences?
Here is an answer. By the way, we used this machine “Shredder for around 100V” that we developed  for shredding.
安い!簡単!効率いい! precious plastic シュレッダーを大幅改良しました
Well, Let’s have a look at our passionate and furious 4 days then.

Day 1  Everything started from “Zero marine waste award”

I heard about this Zero marine waste award a while ago. Time passed so fast because of coronavirus and the busy days, I realized the due date of application is next week. Just having a chat “Should we apply for it?” “Should we?” at the meeting, getting excited, and ended up making bangles from garbages at the beach.
Tried making some bangles of various sizes in a 3D printer in order to make sure that these sizes are okay.
Will carry on tomorrow.

Day 2  Let’s clean up the ocean!

Left home early morning to Shinkawa beach in Minami satsuma.
Called tourism department of Minami satsuma and they said that in this beach there are the most garbages than any other beaches. I had a bunch of nets and ropes with me.
Reticent Esau ( he doesn’t talk much ) looked at me like “Why do you bring these things?” Well, you’re still too young to understand. We departed without explaining what it is for. The moment we arrived at the beach, we found something nice.

A garbage can.

Esau said “Oh this is a big one.” but It was much more worth it for me, Hey you, garbage can,,, you are,,,,

You are born to be a Shoiko!!
(shoiko is a Japanese wooden rack)

Ta dahhhhhh!!!!
Garbage can became a shoiko by Tender’s wonderful rope handling.
And he did a really good job after that.
(It also straighten my back as a side effect!)
We had a good start actually. Let’s go and see further.

Beach Clean-up aluminum and polyethylene ( Ah yes, I know it! )

The purpose of this act is picking up these 2 garbages.
・the aluminum cans for making aluminum mold ( or aluminum garbages)
・polyethylene garbages for shredding and injecting into a new product (PE) We definitely need aluminum cans for making simple molds of aluminum (And it’s about 5,000 dollars! ) but why polyethylene? Because our family lives in the mountain and barely buy plastic stuff so we don’t have chances to get polyethylene. That’s why we need to get polyethylene this time! Can’t wait to meet my sweet polyethylene! My heart is beating fast or I’m having palpitation (Ok, I have to admit that I’m not young anymore) We went further and appeared the colorful polyethylene garbages!!
(This polyethylene seems to be only for Char Aznable)
This is cool. It’s also polyethylene.
This is a trap for catching fish. It keeps killing fishes and doesn’t stop so I definitely pick up every time. This is also polyethylene.
And we go further more,,, found a rudder tube in good condition! (Forgot to take a picture)
I kept it because this could be used as a gasket seel. Going forward,,,
Oh we found a big one!
20L plastic tank! Tender’s wonderful rope handling again.
Tie up the plastic tank with a rope and made a carrying pole with a driftwood and balance plastic tank and garbages that we picked up,,,
It takes you back to Edo period! Ex self defense force, Esau carried this. (It’s actually quite heavy)
This is what we got for an hour and a half.
(We couldn’t find “Ambergris” which used to be worth in gold.)
We couldn’t get small pieces because got a few big ones. Well, these ones aren’t picked up in a normal clean up act! So fair enough. Also we got aluminum cans and PET bottles a little bit. We’ll use them as well.
(the cap on the top right is also 100% polyester which is almost same as PET, so you can mix them together when it’s be shredded.)
We had lunch here on the way back. Got a smoothie too!
(photo by Minamisatsuma tourism association

Washing plastic and selecting 

Had a little break after got home and remove sand and salt of plastic garbages. The mesh for stopping micro plastic to come out clogged because of a lot of sand and salt. So we used compressor and blew away first. It worked.
Then washed them with rain water and dry them.
When it’s dry, time to separate the garbages into categories.

Selecting plastic. Are you polyethylene or polypropylene?

Okay. It doesn’t look fun but this is the most important part. I guess that 10 million people are in trouble with separating plastic into categories! Is it polyethylene or polypropylene? This is the point.
(feel like it isn’t so hard to separate plastic wastes that comes from normal life except for separating polyethylene and polypropylene) Industrially there is a machine that you can separate each plastics into categories depends on how high wavelength is. These machines are still expensive. (but you can find a blueprint in open-source project.) I have been judging based on my experience (like plastics that is used in the beach is normally polyethylene!) Ive never checked out formally,

Burn it!

It was really hard. Hard to separate polypropylene and polyethylene. I heard that it’s easy to get fine, the color of fine is blue and only the edge of the fire is yellow, and also smells sweet,,,

But polyethylene has the same result as polypropylene!

Find another way!

Heat it up to the fixed temperature

The temperature of the lowest scale of iron is 140℃. Polyethylene is about to melt at 140℃. That means that you can determine the type of plastics by seeing whether plastics melt or not at 140℃.
Look! It’s melting!
It’s polyethylene then!
The cap of pet bottle is polypropylene so it doesn’t melt!
That’s correct! But the unexpectedly things that I thought it’s polypropylene melted happened and then I started getting confused.
I had the confidence in judging the type of plastics but maybe I was wrong,,, well, It’s time to control the temperature!
Putting temperature control module onto a small iron plate that I bought for 500 yen, which is for melting plastics, try an experiment and see how temperature plastic can be melted.
But temperature sensor doesn’t seem to work so we also used non contact thermometer to double-check,,,
At 140℃, polyethylene gets sticky and stuck at plate! At 130℃, it doesn’t happen. We are close!
Still being caught in the problem that we can’t measure temperature.
Happened to look aside then,,,
Look what I found. The machine that measure temperature. This is the extrusion machine for making long plastic square timber. This gold base called band heater heat up and measure temperature.
(It melted at 140℃! You are polyethylene!)
We finally can separate plastics. We should’ve noticed at the first place!  Mostly finished the distinction of plastics that we picked up. The one plastic melted at 100℃. I think it’s acrylic because it’s also transparent. It took more time than I expected to separate plastics and I got tired. 
Let’s call it a day.
By the way, I failed to judging plastic by pressing it to the iron because of wind! You can try it with an iron and a thermometer for tempura at home!

Day 3 Melt aluminum and make mold 

We started making mold in the morning. Prepared (Shichirin) eaten charcoal brazier, melting furnace (pail can) and charcoal at old bath room (there are too much toilets here so I removed all toilet bowls from this room.) Put aluminum cans we picked up the day before and aluminum garbages we had picked at Dynamic lab into Shichiri.
(these aluminum cans are from the beach)
Turn the dryer on!
(Looks like burning so badly but it’s still at around 400℃.)
660℃ is needed for Aluminum to melt. That means we need to heat it up until the bottom of the pot turns to red. Removing the slag (impurities being mixed in aluminum), adding charcoal and 20 minutes passed.
Pure aluminum!

Time to mold!

This time, poured liquid aluminum into the cookie can with a spout made from stone powder clay.
I thought I melted tons of aluminum but it wasn’t enough to fill the can. The top face of aluminum doesn’t become flat. It can’t be helped. Waited a little while for aluminum to cool down. Opened the cookie can 10 minutes later,,,
Appeared aluminum like bread!!! The top face isn’t flat as I expected. Anyway we succeeded in making aluminum block. Cooked rice with charcoal left over.
Ate together.

What do you want for Christmas this year? Plane!

So I want a plane, yes I really do. I can’t measure it, close it as a mold and do anything without it., I restored rusty drill press that I bought and combined it with slide table mechanism that I took out from large machine. Here is my original milling cutter “Fura chan (milling cutter in Japanese is Furaisu)”
Removed the rust and changed grease and motor and put slide table and machine vise!
If you use this machine and keep the endmill at a certain height, theoretically you can make a flat plane. (only when the base of material is plane)
Then, told Esau how to work and how to use this machine and he made 4 planes in 4 faces. It took 4 hours,,,! (Thank you Santa Claus and Esau!) He left a comment below.
“Wow,,,, time fried” I guess he had fun (i can’t tell because he doesn’t talk much.)

Finally die-milling

It already started getting dark when all 4 faces were made.
But we didn’t have much time left.
Made cutting design using Fusion360 instantly. Put the aluminum block on CNC base and tried a few times for making sure that it works correctly. Then finally started cutting.
(Oops, that was too fast.)
I’d be freaked if the drill bit would break but it’s all finished anyway.
G-code error made a big hole again unexpectedly. Still I can close it with aluminum putty. Man, this is made from garbages that I picked up at the beach!

Day 4 Melt aluminum, shred plastics and make mold 

Made a lid of mold by cutting an iron board 4.5 mm, Marking, and making inflow port welds. This time we don’t have time so made it easy.
If you use surface plate, height gauge, and mass block, way easier to make it accurately! Collecting polyethylene that we selected,
Pre-cutting plastics to make them small enough to put in a shredder.
(pre-cut plastic wastes with “the machine that a teacher uses to cut paper”.)
(you can step on and break plastics degradated by UV ray)
Putting them into the shredder made in Dynamic lab and shredding into pellet size,
Here is what we made. Colorful polyethylene pellets!
Put them into injection machine and finally inject!
Ohh, it feels right! And open the mold,,,!


We did it perfectly! And the size is also perfect.
Th, this is,,,,,Merci (merci SEA=merSEA)!!!!!!

MerSEA bangle!

And then we made more in various colors.
Ahh yes!
Oh my god, they are so fabulous!!
If I have it in my arm, can’t looking at it.
And when I look at this bangle, can’t stop thinking about the ocean.
not only merSEA, care about SEA. I’d be happy if everyone can make this with garbages that they picked up after cleaning up beach around the world. And it could be a proof of cleaning up beach itself. Wonderful.
Esau and I run through for these 4 days. I’d like to make this know-how into public as an open-source project and also be able to make a profit model that can be applied in clean-up beach activities. I’m going to develop my plan a little more for applying for Zero marine waste award. Stick around. There is more to come!

If you like this article, please
Follow !

Let's share this post !

Author of this article


To comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.