How collecting plastic bottle tops and empty drink containers can help save lives

17 September 2019


Next to plastic bags and containers, plastic bottle tops are one of the top polluters of the oceans and environment. They create microbeads that enter the food chain and pollute our beaches.

Not-for-profit organisation Envision has developed an innovative use for discarded bottle tops that helps our environment and wildlife whilst also helping children in need.

Through its Envision Hands project, the organisation collects and recycles plastic from bottle tops to create 3D printed mobility and disability aids (prosthetic hands and arms) for children in need in third-world countries.

As the organisation notes, bottle caps are fully recyclable. Unfortunately, as reported on ABC’s ‘War on Waste’, they aren’t being recycled and get sent to landfill.

Plastic bottle tops are almost entirely made from HDPE 2 (High-Density Poly-Ethylene). Envision has successfully taken this plastic and extruded it to create functioning filament for 3D printers. Once they have the filament they 3D print all the components that make up the aid.

In addition to mobility and disability aids, the organisation also recycles bottle tops into STEM training tools and aged care gadgets.

How to get involved

  • Collect bottle tops. Adapt a recycled container and start collecting at your school, business, community group or home. Envision currently uses all flat soft drink, water and milk bottle tops, including those from long-life containers. The tops should be numbered either No 2 or No 4 in the recycled triangle but not all are marked. Ideally, all bottle caps should be sorted into 2, 4 and unknown.
  • Locate your nearest collection point for bottle tops. Check the Drop off location page for the nearest collection point where you can drop off bottle tops.

How your empty drink containers can help our native wildlife

Containers for Change

You can help reduce landfill waste and the impacts on wildlife by taking eligible empty drink containers to a Containers for Change collection point and donating your refund to Wildlife Queensland projects. Quote our scheme ID number: C10002920 

Now in its eleventh month, Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme, Containers for Change, celebrated another major milestone earlier this month, with more than 800 million containers returned since its commencement on 1 November 2018.

At this stage, lids aren’t included in the Scheme in Queensland and you should remove lids from beverage containers before taking them to a container refund point. However, we’re hopeful that lids will be included soon.



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