Most of us don't think twice about binning our bottle caps, but Sean Teer had a better idea.
Saving them from landfill, the innovator began creating a product that will change the lives of children everywhere. Envision Hands is a not-for-profit community initiative that uses 3D printing to turn plastic waste into mechanical hands and arms for kids, with the products being sent around the world.
"We saw that there was a waste in the local area, and we realised bottle caps weren't being recycled," Teer said. "As a result of that, we started an education program, and then we thought, let's put them to really good use."
The recycled plastic bottle tops are turned into prosthetic hands using a 3D printing blueprint that's available online for anyone to use. "The bottle caps come in, and we shred them, and it's made into a filament," Teer said. "That is then fed through a 3D printer with a software program, and hey presto, we end up with fingers. "It is quite a lengthy process compared to normal 3D processes because the plastic that we're working with is quite difficult - but the guys are doing a fantastic job in putting it together."
The patterns are unique and colourful, designed to make kids feel confident and empowered, and bringing joy to recipients like four-year-old James Haines - who just last week received a prosthetic inspired by his favourite superhero, Batman. "When he first tried on the hand, it brought tears to my eyes," said James' mother Melissa. "Just seeing him close that hand and open it ... it was really exciting for all of us."
Milk bottle tops, soft drink tops and flat water-based tops are the best to utilise and recycle - and the community have helped to collect over one million bottle caps to date. They've also received a financial grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation for their work in community recycling. "It started in one little community in Werribee, and it's literally gone viral across Australia."
"There are so many people, from young children to the elderly, collecting bottle tops and banging on doors to get more tops out of waste," Teer said.
What sort of bottle caps do they accept?
All flat soft drink, water & milk bottle tops, including those from long life containers. The tops should be numbered either #2 or #4 inside the triangle "recycle" logo.
Which ones dont they accept?
Cant use any that have other plastic or metal attached, that includes water bottle tops which have pull up tops. Any numbers like #5 or #7 are not required. (see below photo for tops that arnt required)
Please ensure the lids are washed prior to dropping off in store. We have a big green bin out the front of the shop and you can drop by at any time to put them in. Dont forget to spread the word and raise awareness. Thank you.
Find out how you can donate to Envision Hands here.
Join our local community group on Facebook; Hocking/Pearsall & Surrounds bottle caps for Envision Hands
Want to know more about Envision Hands? Follow this link; /https://envision.org.au/#