Charlotte group wants to turn your plastic takeout containers into PPE for medical workers

Turning trash into personal protective equipment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Envision Charlotte has been working on cutting down waste, and helping get personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical workers.

“We’ve been looking at plastic, which is one of the biggest things going into our landfill," Executive Director Amy Aussieker says.

For the last few months, there is more takeout around town, which means more takeout trash.

“A lot of my friends who know what I do say, ‘Amy, I have all this plastic,’ and I’m like, ‘hold please, we have a solution coming,’” she says.

Right now, medical workers and first responders are in major need of masks and face shields. So, with too much takeout plastic and not enough face shields - a solution.

“We were like, well we could get this plastic for free, turn it into filament, and then donate it to all the organizations that are creating PPE,” Aussieker says.

The group is getting a machine to melt donated plastic into the material put inside 3-D printers that make these face shields. They will make that filament, then donate it to other groups doing the printing.

With the equipment they have ordered, they say it should be enough for 576 shields per day.

“Not only are they keeping it out of the landfill, they’re creating PPE,” Aussieker says.

The equipment is expected to later become a full precious plastics lab to create all kinds of products, but for now this is the focus.

“It’s weird to take an environmental cause and turn it into a positive for a pandemic,” Aussieker says. “It’s an interesting correlation.”

The 3-D printing groups that receive this free filament will have to tell Envision Charlotte where they will send the PPE they make. Organizations can begin applying for the filament on the Envision Charlotte website beginning July 1.

The goal is for Charlotte to come up with a formula it can then share with other communities, to do the same thing.

Envision Charlotte will begin collecting plastic takeout containers May 26. They are being collected at Envision Charlotte Innovation Barn (932 Seigle Ave.) and 7th Street Public Market.

They can also be taken to Send Me On My Way pickup sites.

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