Poly Poly Plastic Team submit entry for Global Social Leaders Competition
Two enterprising Year 12 students have entered the annual Global Science Leaders (GSL) Competition with their innovative ‘Poly Poly Plastic’ project. The competition asks submissions to spread the awareness of at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have had a positive impact on their local community. The requirements for entry include a written report and a video of their project.
Spurred on by Mr Paul Williams, who coordinates Global Citizenship at Shrewsbury, Riverside, students Bhu and Tat realised they had the perfect entry for the GSL competition. Their innovative ‘Bicycle Shredder’ has been the vehicle for a number of related projects that raise awareness on the need to reduce waste and become more sustainable. Through their after school You-Time after school club, Bhu, Tat and an army of supporters have aimed to educate others on the issues of plastic pollution, and also to both reduce and transform plastic waste into new and useful products. Both Bhu and Tat say that their entry ticks all the right boxes to be successful.
“We believe that change in consumer behaviour and environmental awareness can and must be nurtured as early as possible. With ‘Poly Poly Plastic’, we have worked with students, staff and charities to raise awareness about the issue, provide youthful, experimental campaigning solutions and change the way the community interacts with plastic waste.” Tat says
Focusing on no less than three SDG goals - quality education, responsible consumption and production, and climate action - Bhu and Tat feel that they have met the criteria perfectly.
“We really wanted to engage the wider community in the recycling process. So, we planned, discussed, and manufactured the first bicycle plastic shredder in Thailand. We have had meetings with numerous NGOs, such as BOPESHOP, Precious Plastic Bangkok, Precious Plastic Shanghai and Magic Eyes Foundation.” Bhu says proudly.
This community outreach was essential as the machine itself required considerable financial support, and through engaging with the senior management of Shrewsbury, the students were able to access funds through the school’s charity committee and elsewhere.
The bicycle shredder itself is quite a sight to behold. It sits stationary and rides much similar to an exercise bike. The difference is that it can chew through a range of different plastics, using non-polluting pedal power to turn them into plastic ‘chips’ that can then be repurposed in a variety of ways. With the involvement of their classmates, Tat and Bhu have already been able to recycle a significant amount of plastic, albeit that, just as they were building momentum, their efforts have been cut short by school closure.
“With the assistance of more than 80 students, we have recycled more than 500 bottles of PET, PP and HDPE plastic over the two months following the launch of donation boxes. Sadly, many are left unprocessed as the pandemic renders our operation and donation impossible.” Bhu sighs.
Despite the setback, Bhu and Tat continue to develop the possibilities for the bicycle shredder and ‘Poly Poly Plastic’. There is a massive capacity to get the whole school community involved in sorting, shredding and repurposing the plastic into alternative products - far more useful than plastic bottles.
“In the Design Technology building, we have an injection moulder which we have been experimenting with. We have already made plastic Jenga blocks from recycled plastic shards. These blocks will be donated to Shrewsbury’s charity partner the ‘Thai Muslim School’.”
Perhaps the most innovative idea in terms of repurposing is the possibility of donating the plastic to Jak Dang Temple to make the robes monks wear every day. This idea, along with the creation of toys for disadvantaged children shows that ‘Poly Poly Plastic’ is ensuring their invention has ramifications outside of the Shrewsbury’s gates and into the wider community.
The winners will be announced on the 18th of June, but until that time both Bhu, Tat and their army of helpers will continue to promote sustainability in the form of online panel discussions and perhaps an inter-school environmental conference when current restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.