Students Turn Shipping Container into Plastic Recycling Center
High school students in Kelowna, British Columbia decided to make a plastic recycling plant as a school project, and they did it in a shipping container. The plant, named Operation Take Two, is run by student volunteers.
Shipping Container Plastic Recycling Plant Origins
The project began two years ago, when Rutland Senior Secondary students won $5,000 in a sustainable development challenge in their school district. They were able to get more donations and grants from the community, and the project ended up costing a total of $43,000 and it took two years to finish.
The students who put this together collaborated with 13 community groups to make this happen, including the Okanagan College Enactus Club and the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus School of Engineering.
The 40-foot shipping container has been equipped with everything they need to sort, wash, shred, and melt the plastic; then it's reprocessed into other useful products. There are recycling bins in every classroom in the school, and once a week everything is collected and brought to Operation Take Two for recycling.
“We are turning trash into treasure,” Keneisha Charles, one of the students who started the project, said. “Plant pots, necklaces, baskets.” According to Charles, the "treasures" they make out of the recycled plastic are going to be sold online and at farmers markets, putting the proceeds right back into the plant.
They plan to add a 3D printer to the operation later on, which would allow them to make even more unique items out of plastic.
They estimate it will cost about $3,000 per year to keep the plant running, but the sales from their items could help them exceed that amount with ease.
The students who began this project were taken to Toronto in May to pitch Operation Take Two to investors on Dragon's Den, a reality TV show on CBC-TV, which will air in the fall. As part of their pitch on the show, they said they want to expand their operation to other high schools across the country.
Kevin Kaardal, a superintendent of the school district, said they are "proud of these young innovators because they saw a global problem and collaborated with their community to create a local solution. They’ve created a legacy project that will, in turn, empower other learners long after they graduate.”
“This is our future we are talking about, this is our planet and we want to be able to pass that on and to be able to have a planet to enjoy,” Charles said.
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