Recycled Factory Recycles Soda Bottles

All over the world, mountains of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics are available for recycling in the form of soda bottles. And wherever there is enough cheap raw material, a market is sure to emerge for it. One brilliant inventor in Brazil has decided to capitalize on this market by building a magnificent factory to turn PET bottles into threads, rope, and other products.

Not a word of English is spoken in the video, and our Portuguese stops at obrigado, but you don’t really need to understand what’s being said to know what’s going on. Built from what looks to be the running gear of several bicycles and motors from various cast-off appliances, our nameless genius’ machines slit the PET bottles into fine threads, winds the thread onto spools, and braids the threads into heavier cords. We love the whole home-brew vibe of the machines; especially clever is the hacked desk calculator wired to a microswitch to count revolutions, and the salvaged auto jack used to build a press for forming the broom heads. All in all it’s a pretty amazing little factory cranking out useful products from zero-cost raw material.

We’d love to have more context about what’s being said in the video, so we’ll put this one out there for our Portuguese-speaking readers. Maybe we can get a partial translation in the comments? If so, then obrigado.

[Thanks W4RIS]

31 thoughts on “Recycled Factory Recycles Soda Bottles

  1. What is says in the video is: that he had already saw (on the Internet) the way to make thread, but the process to get to the fineshed rope required 3 diferent machines, and we created a way to make the the process in one machine, and with a better finishing ( using a electric stove seen on the video). Than we talks about the packing process (that uses a simple calculator to count to 50 loops wich gets to 15 meters). The all ideia was came on is toughts… and if we can tought… we can make it… we finishes the video that the all ideia is about recycling and being ecological… sorrry for bad english !!!

  2. Until he shows the calculator, it’s basically this (I don’t speak English very well…) :

    Visiting our means of communication, social networks, I saw PET (me: polyethylene terephthalate in English I think) ropes (I can’t find the term in English but he is producing strings and making a rope from it). The rope already exists. From I decided to work on that idea because the process needs from three to five different machine. Than I decided to put this idea in a single machine.

      1. Dear Marlon J Anjos can you send me the e-mail of this great guy or any other supplier of complete equipment as I am highly interested in starting this small business in Pakistan

    1. After watching it that way, I would not suggest anyone follow my thought. There was an error in translation. To paraphrase Chris Tucker, Google did not understand the words coming out of his mouth.

  3. I was thinking he’s recycling it without melting it. I thought melting degrades the quality. Is this a better way of recycling plastics? Does anybody know in what ways plastics are being recycled?

    1. Not as much as you would hope.

      One of the major obstacles is the plastic identification system we use in the US. If you sort all “5”‘s together and try to melt them together you will end up with a mess of unusable plastic. Even among plastics with a similar chemistry additives used to give plastics other properties can also cause problems.

      Making rope out of soda bottles is probably bleeding edge recycling right now.

      1. The manufacturing process allows for 10% recycled bottles into the material. Other than that, they’re all downcycled into low value products or roadfill.

        The other fundamental problem isn’t the additives, but the fact that PET is slightly porous and chemicals and food residue will seep into it, therefore getting into the products you’re trying to manufacture out of the recycled plastic.

  4. Yes! Post consumer/pre-industrial plastics recycling is the future. By pre-industrial I mean that the waste plastic is used as-is. As was said before, even plastics of the same type have different formulas that make commercial recycling a challenge, This calls for the addition of plasticizers and other materials to produce a usable material. With plummeting oil prices it becomes cheaper to produce new plastic than to collect, clean, sort and process post consumer waste plastic. We need projects like this to find as-is solutions for plastic waste.
    I recently did a few projects using recycled plastic as an aggregate in cast concrete, both as bulk to reduce the amount of concrete needed per casting and as a decorative process when the concrete is subsequently polished and the bits of colored plastic become visible. It has a similar look to terrazzo, but it’s not as strong.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Casting-Concrete-with-Recycled-Plastic-Aggregate/
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Cast-Concrete-Pendant-with-Recycled-Plastic/
    My next step is to try using the shredded plastic in acrylic and other resin based products to cast decorative and functional products.

  5. A major problem with recycling beverage bottles is most of them, except those super thin water ones, are actually made of at least three layers. The inside is always virgin/new PET – to satisfy health and safety. Then there’s a middle layer that’s an oxygen barrier to help the contents stay fresh. The outside usually is partially recycled PET and may contain other plastics.

    The bottles start as injection molded preforms with very thick walls and the neck and threads molded. The preforms get clamped into heated molds then air or CO2 or nitrogen is blown in to force the plastic out against the inside of the mold. In that process, the thick preform stretches and thins.

    This process was developed from the blow molding used for glass bottles. Those of us old enough will remember the earliest plastic soda bottles from the late 70’s which had round bottoms and a glued on, injection molded cap so they’d stand up. Then someone came up with the idea of forming bumps on the bottom to eliminate the bottom cap. Water rocket builders mourned the passing of the round bottom bottles. :-(

    Until Coca Cola started producing their plastic contour bottle, the feetbumps had been the only major change of shape. Now it seems every brand has their own uniquely shaped bottle for all soda sizes 1.5 liter or less. The 2 liter is still universally a plain cylinder, so is Shasta’s 3 liter. (I know of no other company producing 3 liter bottles of soda in the USA.)

    Water bottles have become so thin they can barely support themselves. I have some now so thin they’ve developed permanent tilts like the leaning tower of Pisa. Some lean so far they won’t stand up. It’s also hard to get the cap off without squeezing the bottle and spilling some water.

    On the other end of the durability spectrum, I use the heavy Gatorade, Powerade and other sports drink bottles to mix and store colored urethane resin. Large apple juice bottles are also good for this. It won’t oxidize and deteriorate in them like it will in soda bottles. I guess their oxygen barrier layer(s) aren’t that good.

  6. This dude is clever!
    Way to go! He largely just modifies the materials current state.
    …I don’t think he got a stimulus/tax subsidy, so I think that’s bonus points!
    Truly, my hat is off to this guy!

  7. Well I am quite interested to see the recycling/conversion of used PET bottle into simpliy astring,well I want to do the same thing using 1.5 Liter used PET bottle,on a small scale in my country,so can anybody help or suggest from where can I get the complete equipment,if some one has a clue,kindly forward me the e-mail if possible,
    Regards to all,
    A.Ghaffar

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