Recycle with Us

We love working with artists more than anything. If you would like to help build with us, please reach out! If you are just wanting to drop off plastic, keep reading..

Recycling takes time, labor and resources, so we ask that you contribute to the work that it takes to process DIY plastic recycling. We ask for either a donation or volunteer time with each drop off to ensure we can continue to take your recycling in the future. Most customers donate $5-$20. You may leave cash, pay in person, or coordinate volunteer time by emailing us at hello@trashhackers.org

What We Accept

CLEAN AND DRY

We accept plastic that is clean as your dishes and completely dry. Dirty recycling is just trash. Please wash your recyclables with dish soap, being sure to remove all grease, especially on bottle caps and around threads. If your plastic is not clean, we will contact you to retrieve it. If you drop off something that is dirty, or we do not accept it, we will ask you to return and retrieve your plastic. If these directions are not followed, we will no longer accept your plastic.

TYPES OF PLASTIC

  • We accept #5 (PP), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), and PLA (3D printer filament or compostable cups/flatware).
  • We do not accept #1 (PET), #3 (PVC), #6 (PS), or #7 (Other) at this time.
  • Plastic can be any shape or size smaller than a 5-gallon bucket. Paper labels are acceptable on bottles, jugs, and containers, however, we will offer customer rewards if you remove all labels before drop off.
  • We accept flat plastic lids without labels (no paper or plastic labels) – please remove them before dropping off. Some adhesive residue is okay.
  • You may drop off bottle caps if they are ALL PLASTIC with no rubber seals (check inside of the cap for rubber) or paper labels.

Who and How

Any community member or business who wishes to recycle with us. We limit drop off customers to ensure we are receiving a manageable amount of recyclables. For previous drop off customers, please send us an email to let us know you still wish to be a drop off customer. You will a receive a confirmation from us to confirm you may drop off plastic and with the location. Please leave your name on each bag you drop off.

FAQs

Why Are We Doing This?

We are a collective concerned with the volume of plastic trash produced, curious about what can be done with these materials, and interested in solutions that lead to a healthier home for all of us (people, animals, and our planet). 

Is It Safe?

Working with plastics can be safe IF you use proper ventilation or respiratory protection. Always use respiratory protection for organic vapors when melting plastics of any type.

Plastics are not all the same. There are many unknowns and risks to DIY plastic recycling. 

We accept/work with #5 (PP), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), and PLA (3D printer filament or compostable cups/flatware).
We do not accept/work with #1 (PET), #3 (PVC), #6 (PS), or #7 (Other) at this time.

Never melt PVC because it produces hydrochloric acid gas.

Plastics like PLA, HDPE, LDPE, and PP produce a variety of volatile organic compounds when heated, that can cause serious health effects like lightheadedness, memory loss and headaches if inhaled.

Each plastic product is unique with its own chemical resins and additives. To make any concrete statements about risk, the first step is to measure and understand what you’re dealing with.

US laws allow for proprietary chemical recipes to be undisclosed and to be sold without extensive safety tests with the burden of proof on regulators to establish danger. In many cases, more information is needed. Write to your lawmakers to advocate for change in the laws. See the laws of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights precautionary principle for an alternative statute.

Because of these unknowns, we are working on a ventilation system, carbon filter kit and VOC sensors for those in the DIY community. We believe safety is equally important.

Want to start your own practice?

Check out all the things at PreciousPlastics.org! That’s what our equipment and initial experiments were originally derived from.

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others when experimenting with plastic

Precaution and responsible handling is important. 

1. Protect your eyes and lungs from fumes with an effective organic vapor respirator. Wear gear properly and change the cartridges regularly. Store the respirator in a closed container or bag to extend its life when not in use.

2. Use proper dust collection and respiratory protection for particulates when sanding or cutting plastics.

3. Ventilate your work area and be respectful to others that share your workspace. Different bodies respond differently to chemicals (this is not universal). 

4. Pay attention to plastic melt temperatures. Generally, the higher the temp, the more VOCs release.

5. Work with identifiable sources, learn as much as you can, and take precautions for the unknowns. Update your practices as you learn more and share this information with your community.

6. If unsure about how to ventilate or if you need training on wearing a respirator, consult a professional industrial hygienist. Proper professional guidance and training should be used when developing a safety protocol for working with plastics.

7. Alternates that do not involve heat include textile and weaving techniques with plastic bags+film or stripped PET bottles. These alternatives are fitting for anyone vulnerable/cautious, or not set-up to melt plastic safely.