Archive for the "business" category

How can I reuse or recycle empty bottled gas/propane cylinders?

Lyndon has emailed to ask about reusing – or recycling – propane gas canisters (the ones for heating, barbecues or patio heaters etc):

Trying to tidy up the yard at work, what can I do with some old gas bottles?

If there is a company name on the bottles (like Calor Gas, Flo Gas or TotalGaz – to name but three), the safest/laziest thing might be to contact them to see if they could pick them up – gas bottles get reused again and again by gas supply companies and if the canisters are still in reusable condition, they might be more than willing to take them off your hands and put them back into circulation. (They’ll be able to dispose of any remaining gas too.) (UPDATED: see the note below from Calor – you should really give their tanks back to them.)

Empty or old gas bottles also pop up quite frequently on Freecycle/Freegle, Gumtree and eBay as it is cheaper to refill old tanks than buy new ones every time (and hurrah for that!). Again, hopefully they’ll disappear from your yard with minimal effort and be reused again & again.

As for non-intended purpose reuses, some people turn them into outdoor woodburning stoves – but do be careful if you want to try anything like that yourself! Safety first, and all that.

Have you got any suggestions for how he could reuse these bottles? Or ways to recycle them? And any other advice (particularly about safety issues)?

How can I reuse or recycle large (catering size) food cans?

Sam has emailed asking about large food cans:

I have a number of large metal food cans, some zinc lined, which are called #10 size. They hold about 5 or 6 lbs (just under 3kg) of beans, or other foods. Now that they’re empty, they are open on one end, with no plastic lid to fit them. Any ideas?

Surely I’m not the only one faced with this. I can recycle them, but would like to reuse them.

They sound like pretty big tin cans – probably similar to what we call “catering size” in the UK. I think at least some of the ideas we have for regular size tin cans could be supersized here: plant pots, candle/tea holders for several candles, or using them as a vessel for making those candles in the first place.

But are there any reuses (or upcycling ideas) that are perfect for these bigger cans? Could the can be flattened out to make anything?

How can I reuse or recycle old PVC pipes?

We’ve had an email from Madhvi asking :

how can I creatively recycle old PVC pipes?

We’ve covered some reuses for guttering and drainpipes – which are increasingly plastic these days – but I thought it was worth asking Madhvi’s question because PVC pipes come in all sorts of diameters and lengths.

A few months ago, when I was looking to build us a laundry basket for the bedroom, I spotted this PVC pipe laundry hamper project, which I thought was a very neat idea. Depending on the size, that could possibly be made from offcuts or the idea shrunk down if you only had smaller pieces available. In a similar constructed-with-plumbing-joints vein, I also like the idea of this PVC pipe laptop stand and this bike stand.

As for smaller reuses without additional parts, I like this bathroom storage idea – I’m not sure how many people have two sets of curlers but it’s an adaptable idea, especially regarding the cables. You could use them to tidy up electric cables under desks/behind TVs etc – if all the cables go through sections of pipes, they’re less likely to be underfoot and get tangled. (If the end plugs are too wide to go through the pipe, you can cut slot in it to slide the cable through instead – this guy was doing it for something a little different but this is what I mean by a slot.) Similarly, you can use them instead of kitchen roll/toilet roll tubes for storing electric wires & extension cables when they’re not in use – we’re a geeky household, we’ve got a lot of spare wires ;)

And that’s all before we start thinking about ideas for the garden!

As for actual recycling, PVC recycling has increased over recent years but it’s still not as commonly collected for recycling as some other plastics (and it’s harder to recycle too). If you have a lot of pipes to get rid of, contact your local council’s waste department to see if they can accept them for recycling – or if they’re still in a new/usable condition, pass them on to someone else yourself through eBay, Freecycle/Freegle or Craig’s List etc.

How would you reuse or recycle old plastic/PVC pipes? Have you used them anywhere interesting around your home or garden?

How can I reuse LOTS of florists’ ribbon?

Nicky has emailed to ask how she can recycle:

Almost 100 kilometres of 2″ wide yellow florists ribbon. Unravelled and of varying lengths – very long to short pieces. Currently in 5 large industrial bags.

Wow, that’s a fair bit of ribbon! My first thought would be to offer it to a local scrap store – they collect unwanted materials from businesses and the like, and redistribute them to local schools, community groups and crafters for upcycling & repurposing. Many will collect suitable materials from businesses too, so it’s worth a shot.

Another option would be to offer it on Freecycle/Freegle – it’s unlikely that anyone would want all five bags but a few people might be willing to take a bag each, for their own craft/redistribution purposes.

As for actually recycling it, most florists’ ribbon is made of polypropylene (plastic number 5), which can be recycled so a plastics recycling company may be interested in it. (I don’t know how much 100km of ribbon weighs – most recycling companies like a minimum of around a tonne) I don’t have any particular recommendations for Nicky though – anyone know any plastic recycling companies around London?

Any other suggestions for ways to reuse it, recycle it or pass it on? Preferably ideas suitable for reusing/recycling 100km of the stuff rather than individual craft suggestions.

(Photo by michaelaw)

How can I reuse or recycle PVC aprons?

We’ve had an email from Ann:

The centre where I work has just rebranded and they’ve made us get rid of all the protective aprons we use for messy art classes as they had the old name on them. I think they’re PVC. Can they be recycled?

I would have thought most textile reclamation companies would accept them – because before actual recycling, they might be reusable by people less bothered about having the correct brand on them. Similarly there may be community groups in your local area that would like them – but it does, unfortunately, depend on how obsessive the organisation is about the brand stuff — I know some places are really annoyingly single-minded about that sort of thing and will send all sorts of new items to landfill to avoid any confusion about their current name/logo.

Could the aprons be adapted or repurposed so they can still be used internally? I’m imagining they’re full length aprons – if the logo is just on the top bit, could it be covered up? Or cut down to make a waist apron?

Or could the non-branded bits of the apron be upcycled into something else? Placemat-style table coverings? Might be useful for messy sessions.

Any other ideas for reusing/repurposing/upcycling them? Or actual recycling suggestions?