Cap Collectors Making a Difference….bottle caps being recycled into mobility support aids for children

At 43 years of age, Tim Miller, who lives in Canberra was diagnosed with bowel disease, osteoporosis and liver disease and told he has just nine years to live.  He is now, single-minded about using whatever time he has left to make a difference to the community.

He began to collect recyclables at the Aranda street library for fundraising purposes, and soon found out that the caps or lids on the bottles could not be recycled in the ACT.  Plastic bottle caps are fully recyclable.  Unfortunately, as reported on ABC’s ‘War on Waste’, they aren’t being recycled and get sent to landfill.  They fall through machinery, and sometimes in worst case scenarios, if still attached to a bottle, they can explode and force expensive re-packing issues.

“We were collecting hundreds of lids and we weren’t sure what to do with them,” Tim said.”I got my kids to help me set up a Facebook page, and we had a look on the interweb, and we discovered through Dr Google there was a group called Envision,” he said.

His research led him to a charity in Victoria where the plastic lids/caps could be transformed using 3D technology into brightly coloured plastic limbs for child amputees.

ENVISION HANDS, is a not-for-profit organisation based in Victoria and they shred low- and high-density bottle lids and turns them into new mobility support aids using 3D printing.

Lids 4 Kids is an organisation in Goulburn that organise the collection of bottle lids for Envision Hands.  Nicole and Brad Sutherland, who established Lids 4 Kids in Goulburn, collect the buckets of lids from various sites, which are then shipped to organiser Time Miller in Canberra.  

“We currently have approximately 47 places around Goulburn as drop off points and this is growing daily,” Nicole Sutherland from Lids 4 Kids Goulburn said.

Location for Lids 4 Kids containers include Anglicare Homelessness, Storage King, Mulwaree Library, Carlton Hotel, Essential Employment and Training, Hume Conservatorium, The Crescent School and Academy Early Learning.

Tim then transports the lids to Envision Hands’ warehouse in Melbourne for cleaning and where they are organised into colour.  They are then shredded and fed through an extruder, which produces an ink-like filament.  That filament is then used in conjunction with 3D software to print the mobility support aids that will then be donated to children in need.

Envison Hands is on a big mission.  Inspired by the Enabling the Future organisation, they will be participating in the world-wide community making and donating 3D printed bespoke aids for children in need across under-serviced countries.  The major difference is that their project will be using recycled plastic from bottle tops, which also benefits the environment.

So far, Envision have had support from Rotary International and Rotary Wyndham in particular and Lions Club. Coca Cola Foundation are Envision’s major sponsor, giving them the start-up funding, they needed to get the ball rolling in the first place.

Since then, this project has exploded and spread like wildfire across Australia.  Envision Hands are fundraising again through a Go Fund Me at present, as they require funds for major equipment to process all the bottle tops that are being sent in. People all over Australia not only want to help save their environment, but also want to be a part of a movement that is helping children in need.

At the beginning of this year Envision set themselves the goal of collecting one million tops and turning them into 100 hands and arms by the end of 2019.  They’ve smashed the bottle top goal and they now want to get going with making the mobility support aids.  They need funds for the following:

2 x 2nd hand commercial granulators 

Heavy duty plastic extruders 

CNC and lathe 

Injection moulds –

2 x higher quality 3D printers 

If you’d like to help, Sean Teer is organising this fundraising appeal on behalf of Envision Employment Services Incorporated.  Donations to Go Fund Me are 100% tax deductible.