Plastic recycling to raise a smile

About 15 million mobile phones are discarded every year. Some are refurbished and sold again but most are shredded and go into landfill.

Problem: The EU WEEE regulations that are poised to come increasingly into force in the next very few years will require that manufacturers and retailers of anything that runs on electricity must set up recycling schemes for any products that customers have finished with. Plastic bottles, outgrown children's wellie boots and countless other plastic products are also presently mainly dumped, but are increasingly likely to be required to be recycled within the next few years. Solution: Smile Plastics, based in Shrewsbury, has found ways to make very attractive plastic sheets out of different kinds of plastic waste. In the case of the mobile phones, the batteries, SIM cards and electronics are removed and the company converts the bodies to 10mm thick sheets. The coloured wellie boots are processed with the aid of heat and up to 1,000 tonnes of pressure to squash them into 2mm thick sheets. The also make sheets out of plastic bottles, recycled banknotes, CDs, and toothbrushes. Applications: The phone body sheets are used to make tables, shelves, display panels or just hung on the wall as works of art. Each phone case can be seen in distorted, tortuous detail, compressed into two dimensions but still clearly identifiable. The wellie sheets are soft, rubbery and tactile, ideal for table coverings, bar and bar-stool tops and waterproof mats for kitchens and bathrooms. Standard sizes are 2000 x 1000mm with thicknesses from 2mm to 25mm. 3m x 1.5m is also possible at most thicknesses. TS Smile Plastics