Plastic shredding machine, built by Otago Polytechnic students for Connections CentreCreative Commons Attribution NonCommercial license 4.0 International by Shane Gilchrist

Milk bottle top recycling

An interdisciplinary student project is supporting people with disabilities in meaningful work collecting, sorting, and shredding coloured milk bottle tops.

The Connections Centre offers supportive day programs for people living with physical and intellectual disabilities and their whānau. They aim to assist service users to follow their interests and develop engagement within the community. Connections is also passionate about recycling and minimising waste. They aim to repurpose products that might normally end up in the landfill.

An exciting new project will simultaneously:

  • provide meaningful work for Connections' service users which includes visible engagement with society, and 
  • provide an opportunity for milk bottle tops to be recycled, reducing waste going to landfill. 

Two Occupational Therapy students, Ana Amador-Preciado and Alex Potter, worked with Connections to help design and set up the service, with collection points in stores for people to drop off their milk bottle tops. Connections service users will visit the stories to collect the bottle tops. The bottle tops will be cleaned and sorted by colour and plastic type, so that the shredded plastic will be more suitable for recycling.

The shredding machine has been built to a Dutch design by our Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Trades students and their supervising staff with assistance from our EPICentre technicians. It incorporates a range of safety features to protect users. The machine has been donated to Connections Centre to be used by their service users for shredding the plastic milk bottle tops.