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I would like to know if it is possible to recycle plastic at home by melting and molding.

Is it at all possible? What technique or technology do I need? Can it be done with any plastic? Are there health hazards associated to this activity?

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Are there health hazards associated to this activity? -->Inhalation of toxic fumes comes to mind. Other than that, you're probably golden. –  elssar Feb 1 '13 at 12:52
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@elssar: is it true of all plastics? Are fumes systematically present during melting? –  Benjamin Feb 1 '13 at 13:02
    
I think so, yes. All plastics will produce some toxic fumes when melted/burned, some more than others. But googling around, it seems that it isn't as bad as I first thought. –  elssar Feb 1 '13 at 13:11
    
This idea of converting plastic into oil is also quite cool. If you're going to use oil anyway, you might as well use it and get rid of a big pile of plastic at the same time... –  Earthliŋ Feb 1 '13 at 13:28
    
Wow, amazing idea! –  Benjamin Feb 1 '13 at 13:33

4 Answers 4

up vote 23 down vote accepted

I would like to know if it is possible to recycle plastic at home by melting and molding.

Yes it is possible. One guy makes chairs out of melted plastic. There are several guides on melting plastic that show up when you search google for it. This one, on ehow shows how to melt plastic in a toaster oven. Basically, wash the bottles, cut 'em into small manageable chunks and pop them in a metal container and into the oven at 350F. It should take a few minutes for the plastic to melt.

As for molding them, I found a few guides -

But remember, melting plastics will produce fumes which can be harmful if inhaled. Make sure to melt them in a well ventilated area. And if you're doing it in a room, it would be nice to have an exhaust fan in there. Also, check out this guide on what the different rating numbers on the bottom of plastic bottles mean, specifically, what kinds of plastic a number refers to and whether or not it is safe to melt that plastic.

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Are the fumes only toxic for health? I "thought" they were very polluting as well. –  JeromeJ Jul 20 '13 at 14:37
    
This also does not address whether All types of plastics can be melted safely or what kinds of plastics are worth melting. –  Enjabain Feb 7 at 23:21

To contribute to the options offered by Elssar's answer, here is an interesting thing I read about just a few days ago:

Filabot is a project of compact 3D printer that directly recycles plastic objects at home to create new shapes. It was launched for funding on the 19th of December 2011 on Kickstarter and tripled its goal by the 23rd of January 2012.

Here is the homepage of the project: http://filabot.com/

They apparently shipped the devices to at least some of the project backers during 2013.

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Even when melted/burned in a place with lots of ventilation, plastics can produce many toxic chemicals. These are then breathed in or attach themselves to soil, where they can stay for years and years. Therefore, I really wouldn't suggest trying to reuse plastics at home by melting or heating them, as the health implications can be really dangerous and damaging in the long run.

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Is this true for all types of plastic? Are you able to provide a link to some more information about this? Thanks! –  Highly Irregular Feb 12 at 3:39

It depends on the plastic you're using. Plastics often come in the thermoplastic and thermosetting categories.

If the plastic is a thermosetting plastic then it is not able to melted (Most, if not all thermosetting plastics burn rather than melt).

However, a thermoplastic plastic can be melted and remoulded as much as you want (quality of plastic is likely to degrade after each phase melting and remoulding however).

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