Our recycled plastic fail - it's about the journey, right?!
If you follow our business journey even distantly, you’ll know this about us;
We’re bench-top scientists, wish-cyclers and boots-on-the-ground product developers. This is because the single funnest thing about our company is that innovation in sustainability, and the ability to iterate freely, IS the reason for being.
We feel grateful about just how many things have gone right, but that is not what this blog is about.
This blog is about things that can go wrong when you’re trying something new - and this episode is called the flaming recycled candle.
It started a couple of months ago, when the idea to use candles to help our customers help us choose our scents, came to life. Desperate to find a way to integrate waste into the process, we started to explore candle jars made out of recycled plastic.
This was our process;
Confirm that thick plastic can safely house a small flame. Tick
Find a mold that worked. We didn’t want to create a whole new mold for candle jars, because that felt wasteful - so we reached out to our friend Piers at Precious Plastic, to see if he had any leads.
He introduced us to literally the nicest person we have ever met, Stuart. He works just around the corner here in Brunswick, at the Ecological Justice Hub. They have their own mini-shredder and injection molder, because they run workshops where they teach people how to recycle plastic, from bottle-lids they collect at the local Neighborhood houses.
They also had a mold for mini pot plants - just the most perfect substitute for a candle jar A huge tick!
Find the waste. Tick, we found it in the form of our end of life refill packs.
Make mini candle jars. Tick.
Nail down the formulas. Tick.
Test fill the candles. Tick.
Create the artwork and send it to print. Tick, we have a wonderful team for this.
Test burn the candles. No tick. The opposite.
You see, we discovered that recycled plastic (especially from mixed plastic) has quite a low melting point. Lower than what we expected.
Which meant, when the hot wax sat in the base of the candle, it would slowly warm the plastic. By the time the mini flame reached the bottom of the candle, the plastic was malleable enough to be melted right through.
Maybe the possibility of a candle melting plastic is the reason you seldom see it in plastic anyway – seems like a likely story?
Either way, these pots planters are not safe to use as a candle, but oh so cute to have as, well, potplant holders. We were almost halfway through making our candle holders when physics railroaded the fun, which means we now have somewhere north of 150 pots planters here.