Tuesday, 9 August 2022
    Recycled plastic buddy benches boost friendships

    Recycled plastic buddy benches boost friendships

    When Charlie Woolstencroft volunteered to help bring a small Canberra charity's vision to life, he had no idea what he was getting himself into, ABC News reports.

    "I'm an electrician by trade, I've had 52 years of being an electrician. I'm not a furniture designer, I'm not a carpenter, this is beyond anything I've ever done before," he said.

    But after months of hard work, and a few mistakes along the way, Mr Woolstencroft created the first of many fully recyclable and environmentally sustainable benches, made entirely from bottle caps.

    'The project is the brainchild of Tim Miller – the founder of charity Lids4Kids – who began collecting recycled bottle caps in 2019, initially to create plastic hands and arms for child amputees.

    Recently, Mr Miller turned his mind to a new use for the plastic – seating for Canberra schools, known as Buddy Benches, designed to help students make friends or have a place to sit to reduce anxiety.

    The process, which takes about 20 hours in total, starts with the melting of bottle lid granules in "lots and lots of different colours".

    "I load the machine up, might be one colour, might be two colours, depending on what we decide to make," Mr Woolstencroft said.

    "If it's just a slat, it'll take about 30 or so minutes. Then, after that, the work starts – trimming it all up and bolting it all together."

    Each bench is made from around 15,000 plastic caps, varying from milk bottle lids, to water bottle lids and soft drink lids, which are all non-toxic.

    The benches can be made completely smooth, but Mr Miller and Mr Woolstencroft decided to leave them textured.

    "It's actually something tactile that the kids can feel, it takes away their anxiety, it's very much like a fidget-spinner, it calms them down," Mr Miller said.


    Buddy Benches made from recycled plastic bottle caps helping reduce anxiety and boost friendships in Canberra schools (ABC News)


    The benches, made from recycled plastic lids by charity Lids4Kids, are brightly coloured and textured.(ABC News)