Plastic bags useful again

17:00, Jul 23 2013
Bea Lortimer
FANTASTIC PLASTIC: Eco-designer Bea Lorimer is looking forward to the new community venture, producing goods such as these book covers made from fused plastic bags.

Bea Lorimer is preparing to set a trend for the community creation of gorgeous things made from used plastic.

The eco-designer based at Upcycle on Ocean View Rd, Oneroa, has just been awarded $3120 by Auckland Council from a new fund to minimise waste in an innovative way.

The money is for a pilot project that will pay for a trainee to learn how to create bags, tablecloths, book covers, aprons and "whatever else we can come up with" from plastic bags that would otherwise end up in landfill.

The training will be for eight hours a day over six months but products should start to become available for sale at Upcycle and the Saturday market in Ostend in a couple of months.

Ms Lorimer says after online research she developed the technique of fusing layers of plastic by ironing and sewing them together.

But it has been hard to focus at the same time on her core business of designing and making garments from recycled fabrics.


"I wanted to get the recycled plastic bag project more up and running. I needed someone who could be trained in collecting the thrown out plastic and then cleaning, fusing, cutting and sewing it.

"I love the colour of all fused plastics together. I see the venture as something that can involve the whole community, collecting and finding a use for stuff that's been thrown out.

"Once this works here, it can be a business template that can go into any other community," Ms Lorimer says.

She is being supplied by an alpaca farmer with large, thick empty plastic feed bags that are ideal but potting mix bags and ordinary carriers are also good to use.

Ms Lorimer has already made enough items from them for sale in the shop, at markets, a store in Palmerston North and a gallery in Titirangi.

But she says now it is time to get a process developed for each different item and hand over her knowledge and skills to others.

"I'm delighted to have been awarded the grant."

The award comes from the inaugural round of Auckland Council's Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund, which has a $500,000 pool for projects.

Two other waste minimisation projects on the island also received grants.

Waiheke High School received $3522 as a contribution towards waste stations around the school, with clear signage and separate bins for waste, recycling and organic matter.

The other was a grant of $830.81 to Waiheke Primary School to help educate staff and students to recycle properly.

It will include a new three-bin system for organics, recycling, and refuse and the setting up of worm farms and compost bins.

The new fund is one of the first actions to emerge from council's Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, with money provided from the Waste Levy administered by the Ministry for the Environment.

Recipients need to show they have resources to meet at least half of the cost of the funding requested.

The $500,000 fund for 2013/14 is being disbursed through two funding rounds. The next one is in October.

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