RUG/Pennsylvania/State College/Waste Reclamation System

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Current Progress

Penn State RUG has begun very preliminary initial research on a waste recramation system for turning polyethylene into filament. Further research will be conducted over coming semesters and information will be updated here.



Different types of polyethylene are being considered as material choices. Polyethylene has a low melting point (between 248 and 265 degrees F), can be melted and reshaped repeatedly, non-toxic, and produces little to no fumes. Two different types are High Density (#2) and Low Density (#4).

Processing Considerations

The milk jugs first will need to be shredded. This can be done by hand with scissors but would not be efficient on a larger scale. The idea of obtaining a heavy strength paper shredder is proposed. Other ideas are a blender or home made grinder. To melt the plastic, a heating element is needed. Potential elements for experimentation were considered from a toaster, glue gun, coffee maker, or hair dryer. Nicrome wire is a good idea and can be found in toasters and hair dryers. Leads for further research are to look into "hobby injection molding" and "vacuum forming".


A one gallon, HDPE, milk jug was cut into small pieces and placed in an electric oven. The temperature was raised to various temperatures above the melting point range between 248 and 265 degrees F. It was found that when heated beyond 300 degrees F the material begins to "brown". The material, when melted, was not a flowing liquid consistency but rather thick and pliable. This shows that the material will need to some how be forced or pulled to the tip in the forthcoming design.