Plastic Lab: Giving Ocean Plastic a Second Life

by Plastic@Bay in Durness, Scotland, United Kingdom

We did it
On 22nd April 2020 we successfully raised £15,230 with 216 supporters in 49 days

Our coasts are choking in discarded fishing ropes . We clean the coast and develop ways to recycle fishing ropes into construction material.

by Plastic@Bay in Durness, Scotland, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

We did it! Thank you to Aviva Community Fund, their staff and our wonderful supporters. We have raised enough funds to purchase raw materials to make the 650 Face Shields for key workers, and to start development on our initial project of recycling ocean plastic into construction material.

We have put a stretch target in place to help us continue developing and researching ways to recycle ocean plastic. We have lots of ideas to grow and expand our work. After we have perfected making simple fence posts and beams, we want to develop a system to make plastic sheets from large nets by designing a sheet die system. 

But we won't stop there. Once we have refined our system to make construction material from Ocean Plastic our long term goal is to;

Bring our ideas to other communities and help them set their own plastic recycling workshop.

Develop small scale factories at busy harbours to directly recycle large fishing ropes and nets on the spot. 

We are PLASTIC@BAY, a beach cleaning community group based in the Scottish Highlands. We clean the coast, and recycle and reuse the Ocean Plastic we collect.

Our original crowdfunding campaign was to cover costs of research and development into recycling ocean plastics into material for the construction industry; fence posts, and planks (our original campaign information can be found at the end of the page), but in an effort to help fight Covid-19 we have changed our focus to making Face Shields for key workers.

*New project* Making Face Shields for Key Workers

Due to the unprecedented strain the Covid-19 pandemic is putting on resources many key workers are reporting shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Plastic@Bay is part of a worldwide plastic recycling community, Precious Plastic, which is working together to find a solution. In many countries Face Shields are one of the pieces of equipment in short supply and people are desperately trying to produce them. Most solutions rely on 3D printing which is precise but very slow. In plastic production, extrusion is the fastest. 

The Prototype

We have made a prototype for a Face Shield from recycled ocean plastics and A4 sheets of clear plastic using our precious plastic extrusion machine (v.3). We have reviewed the standards for making face shields and the recommendations of doctors to design our model. We decided on a simple design that: 

  • uses less plastic and can be produced faster. 
  • Is comfortable with a clear gap between face and screen.
  • comes with a secure and adjustable attachment.

Click here for details and a full tutorial on how we make our Face Shield.

We are working with a mould designer to make a mould to help us mass produce Face Shields. We are also working on designing shallow sterilization methods using UV lights for our production chain.

We already have orders from key workers in super markets. The NHS have added us to their list of suppliers to contact if stocks run low.  

All our designs and methods are open source, when the pandemic will hit countries with less facilities, our solution might save lives.

Our Workshop

We have closed our workshop/shop, Plastic Lab, to the public in accordance with government guidelines, and in doing so, have lost our main source of revenue. This season, Julien, our director and research leader, will be prioritising work on mass producing Face Shields. At this time more than ever, we are relying on your donations to keep us going. 

We very much appreciate all the support and generous donations we receive.  

How can YOU help or be involved?

1. Donate to the cause. Every donation no matter how little or large helps us achieve our goals.

2. Spread the word to help us connect with key workers and organisations that come in direct contact with the public and are need protection.

Contact us directly through our website or by emailing [email protected], or share our Crowdfunder page, and our social media pages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

3. Purchase one of our fab rewards.

4. Refer or recommend a person or group who would find our work interesting or inspirational. We always want to connect with other beach cleaners to share stories, and advise.

5. Do a litter pick or beach clean in your local area.

However YOU can help in whatever way, small or large, will be hugely appreciated.

Here is a little bit about us, PLASTIC@BAY.

OUR MISSION is to limit the impact of plastic pollution on the environment. Our objectives are threefold, remediation, research and outreach; to remove plastic pollution from our beaches, research innovative ways to recycle and reuse marine plastic, and educate communities about the devastating, long lasting effects of plastic pollution. 

Plastic@Bay was founded by Julien and Joan in April 2017. We started by organising beach cleans around Durness, NW Scotland, through national organisations like, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Marine Conservation Society. We identified two big problems; 

1) There was really a lot of plastic washing up on the shores everyday and,

2)  80% of this plastic was Fishing Ropes and Nets, which are not recyclable by conventional means, so it ended up in landfill. 

We both have an academic background in Geoscience, so it was natural for us to start researching the problem. We set up a Beach Clean Bin at Balnakeil Beach and started weighing and surveying the plastic pollution we collect weekly. We publish a Beach Bin Report monthly (see below) which shows the cumulative weight of plastic collected from Balnakeil Beach alone since May 2017 (4 tonnes), and the weight of plastic that washes ashore every day. The graph shows that the recent storms are bringing in nearly 50 kg per day. 

Plastic Lab

In 2018, we got funding from SSE Highland Sustainability Fund to hire a Beach Ranger for two years, to clean and patrol the local beaches for plastic pollution, and to set up Plastic Lab, Scotland's first Ocean Plastic Recycling Workshop.  Julien built our lab based on the concepts of Precious Plastic. We now make clocks, tiles, coasters and jewelry from recycled fishing ropes, and sell plastic alternatives to the local community and passing tourists. We also give workshops on recycling Ocean Plastic to  Community Groups and schools.

Beach Cleaning

In 2019, we did 49 beach cleans and recovered 959 kg of pollution from Balnakeil Beach alone. Together with Balnakeil, we patrol and clean three other beaches in our local area. In addition to these regular beach cleans, we organise larger beach cleans in deeply polluted areas along the coast, for example Duartbeg, the Kyle of Durness and Scouriemore

In May 2020, we are organising Scotland's first Beach Clean Gathering, Redd Up (Scots for Clean up). We hope to gather 100 volunteers to come up to the Highlands and help us clean Scouriemore, a cove holding 40 years of plastic pollution, equating to over twenty tonnes plastic.

We have so much plastic, we are running out of storage space. It is crucial that we reach our target, and start making something useful out of all this waste.

The Plastic@Bay Team

Joan and Julien are founding directors. Joan coordinates projects, and takes care of all the paper work, and fundraising. Julien is responable for all our great research, building the workshop, maintaining the machines, recycling the plastic and beach cleaning, and all as a volunteer. Roz is our third director, and volunteer beach cleaner. Our Beach Rangers past and present, Hannah, Scott, Jim and Simon, do the hard work of cleaning the beaches every week. And of course, our great team of  local volunteers, and environmental conscious visitors to the area.

 We designed Plastic@Bay as a multifaceted research project. We clean the beaches and also research how plastic moves through the environment, and how to manage the plastic we collected by recycling it. 

We share all our knowledge on our website, if you have any questions please contact us and you can always pop in and visit us in our workshop.

Here is our original crowdfunding campaign which we hope to start work on in September 2020

Recycling Ocean Plastic into Construction material: The Concept

To find a solution for Ocean Plastics by developing new technology that will make something useful from pollution, like construction material. 

If you give value to waste, it's not waste anymore.

The Prototype:

The Outcome:

For each 10*10 cm fence post we recycle 16kg of ocean plastic. Recycled plastic material has a low carbon footprint and maintenance free qualities making it ideal for building and construction instead of wood, concrete, steel and virgin plastic. 

We will be use your generous donations to help us research and develop our concept and prototype:

Keys aspect of the project include;

Research and Development

  • Identifying the best type of Ocean Plastic to recycle for construction material?
    • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) from Fish Crates and Fish Farm Pipes or                           Polypropylene (PP) from ropes and nets.
  • How best to prepare Plastic for recycling?                                                  
    • Efficiently clean and dry plastic for extrusion. 

Mould Design

We have built a mould to make a large fence post which uses 16kg of ocean plastic (see above), but this needs more work.

  • The design of the new mould will include an inner casing made of Aluminium as plastic sticks to steel, working with Aluminium needs specalist weilding equipment. The outer case will be made from steel for strength and durability, and an efficient cooling system to cool hot extruded plastic.       
  • Prototypes need to be tested and refined.
  • Continuing testing to make the whole process as efficient and cost effective as possible. 


Identifying our target market, advertise and SELL SELL SELL!!!!

Plastic@Bay in a non profit organisation, all profits to back into beach clean activities.

Our Supporters

SSE Renewable Highland Sustainable Community Fund

FLAG: Fisheries Local Action Group Moray and Highlands

The Vayyu Foundation


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£30 or more

£30 or more

Thank you, you will be acknowledged as a supporter on our website, and get an awesome hexagonal coaster made from recycled ocean plastic.

£5 or more

£5 Reward

Thank you and good work, did you know that every £5 donated equals to 3kg of Plastic removed from our coast.

£15 or more

£15 reward

Make beach cleaning more interesting with your very own Guide to BEACH LITTER designed by the fantastic Julia Barton aka Littoral: sci-art project. The Guide is a useful informative educational tool that helps to identify 40 different types of litter often found on beaches around the UK. It highlights the problem of beach litter and how understanding it better is the first step toward solving it.

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Thank you! For £50 or more you get your name on our supporters page and the choice of a Beach Clean Guide plus a coaster plus, or a pair of earrings made from recycled ocean plastic.

£100 or more

£100 or more

Wow! Thank you! Not only will you be acknowledged as a supporter on our website, you will also get a clock or tidal clock made to order.

£500 or more

£500 or more

You are too kind! For £500 you get to be a Super Supporter, plus you and four friends are invited come to Plastic Lab for a workshop. The workshop involves cleaning the beautiful Balnakeil Beach, an educational talk about Ocean Plastics, and finally you get to make a product of your choice out the plastic you collected.

£1,000 or more

£1000 or more

Thank you, for your amazing generosity Julien will make you a unique piece of art from Ocean Plastic. Julien not only builds and maintains our machines, and does all the recycling, he also has an artistic side and lots of ideas for art pieces. You will not be disappointed.

£5,000 or more

£5000 or more

We have reached our target! For your generous donation Plastic@Bay will come to you. Yes, we will take the Plastic Lab Workshop on the road*, visit your home town, do a beach clean or litter pick in your area, give you the low down on Plastic Pollution and the Ocean, and give you the chance to make recycled products with our injection mould machine.....WOW!

Got an idea like this?

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