New program turns old hats into park benches

Hats off to novel recycling scheme

Mr Bowen with Williamstown North schoolboy Brooks. (Department of Sustainability and Environment)

Thousands of hard hats are being turned into park benches as part of a new Victorian recycling program.

Hard hats used by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria for firefighting and field work can only be used for three years, because of manufacturer recommendations and OH&S guidelines.

The old hard hats used to be destined for landfill, but the DSE program will see the thousands of helmets dumped annually made into everyday items.

“We replace 2,000 hard hats a year on average and as an example it takes 550 hard hats to make one park bench,” said DSE warehouse manager Jeremy Bowen.

“The hard hats will get crushed and chipped, then melted, then force fed into moulds and be made into park benches and also bollards, planks for decking, office chairs, signs – there’s over 200 different things.

“There’s a few other recycle programs around, they’re mainly just the standard paper and cans, but this is unique.”

The recycled plastic decking is already being used in the car park of the 12 Apostles, while the park benches and other goods will wind up in Victorian schoolyards.

“There’s a few local schools using them already, and I’m sure this will grow,” Mr Bowen said.

There are already plans to get other government departments, like Melbourne Water and the Department of Primary Industries, on board.

And Mr Bowen also has grand plans for all the DSE’s plastic waste.

“We’re trying to expand the program into all our hard plastics, rather than just the hard hats and plastic tags, and soft plastics as well,” he said.

“It’s environmentally friendly, otherwise it all just goes into the landfill. We may as well find something useful for it.”

Author: Sarah Collerton
Photography: Soft seat
Source: ABC News



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