Meet Rikki – he is on a mission to create bodysurfing handplanes out of plastic waste from our beaches.
Founder of WAW handplanes, Rikki Gilbey, Sydney, has been creating handplanes from sustainable, recycled and reclaimed timber and neoprene for the last five years.
In 2017 he embarked on a new mission to create bodysurfing handplanes out of the plastic waste he finds on the beach each and every time he goes for a surf.
Fast forward 18 months and WAW handplanes are just a few months away from releasing their very first range of bodysurfing handplanes made from approximately 1/3 beach collected plastic and 2/3 kerbside collected post-consumer plastics (i.e. what goes in our recycling bins!)
“The beach waste we are using to create the handplanes is a mixture of hard plastics, such as bottle caps, straws, lids, detergent bottles and plastic bags, and then we combine this with kerbside waste, predominantly milk bottles and bottle caps,” said Rikki.
“I was motivated to take our business model one step further as, to be frank, I hate plastic, and especially how little of it we actually recycle.
“It’s particularly important we address beach collected waste, as out of all the post-consumer plastic out there, it is quite possibly the most challenging to use.
“This is mainly because of the high rates of contamination through sand, algae, and dirt and high levels of deterioration through sun and water exposure.
“I set myself the challenge to create a usable, functional product from this waste, in the hope that I can prove that; if we, a non-industrial company with no plastics recycling experience, can create a product on mass using one of the hardest forms of plastic to recycle, we could prove that all forms of plastic recycling are possible and profitable and there are no excuses as to why we aren’t recycling more,” said Rikki.
Having spent the last 18 months working intently on the new project, Rikki has observed some massive gaps in NSW’s recycling industry which he believes the state government needs to address.
“If there was one thing in particular I’d like to see the state government work on it would be to invest more funds and resources into the cleaning and processing stage of waste recovery.
“I was so shocked by the lack of infrastructure for cleaning and processing waste – even if people are collecting and picking up waste, there are very few places you can currently send the waste to.
“We had to engage a whole bunch of volunteers to manually complete the process and while we really appreciate all their help, we really should have the infrastructure in place in the first place,” said Rikki.
For more information on Rikki’s project and WAW handplanes, head to: www.wawhandplanes.com.au