repurposing packaging

Plastics. you can’t avoid them, things you NEED to buy come packed in them and surprise! you are now responsible for disposing of the packaging.  I always figured if you could get the logos off more of these items would be reused instead of tossed for recycling. Case in point are the buckets that scoopable cat litter comes in. Now NO one wants to start using these as storage containers, and such because folks will think they are FULL and think you are just a crazy cat lady. But I really want one of these buckets for storing my boat crap, because it has a a handle and an attached flip top..and mostly because its yellow.

A lot of household containers are made of HDPE -High-density polyethylene which has high tensile strength and high resistance to chemical solvents. The labeling seems to be screened on with a protective gloss. Today I pulled some cans out of the back of my mad chemistry shop and decided to at least TRY to make dent.  So this may only work for these plastics marked 2 in a triangle.

I already knew milder things like alcohol, naphtha and heptane wouldn’t work, but I didn’t want to go straight to acetone as I didn’t want to take the chance of dissolving the plastic. Yes liquefying the plastic will remove the ink, but it never ever looks clean afterward. I decided to try Mineral Spirits which had no effect, and Methyl Ethyl Keytone (Butanone) which worked perfectly.

Obviously these are all in the family of – use with care, open a window, wear a mask yatta yatta yatta – but this doesn’t take long. Think of it like removing fingernail polish, work quick.  I went through about 10 papertowels, (the new skinnier ones) and about a half a cup of MEK, this stuff evaporates very quickly so you need to work fast.

It dissolved the coating, and then started eating away at the inks very quickly. It reminded me off Goof Off which is Xylene, the couple of times I tried using Goof Off to remove stickers on book covers, it dissolve the sticker adhesive fine, then it went after the gloss coating and the inks, so perhaps xylene will also work for this task.   As soon as the last colored ink was removed, I went over the surface and the MEK had no effect on the plastic whatsoever.

I am very excited. I use these buckets to haul sand from the town storage area, whereas I may not care they are all cat litter buckets. I do come across a lot of other packaging, spray bottles and plastic containers that I would like to reuse instead of tossing them in the recycling bin.  BTW It also removed SHARPIE MARKER on a couple of plastic items.  It did remove it from the Weathermatic Camera but it started to liquefy the plastic, as that  is NOT HDPE.

(note: this bucket is NOT mine, i see no value in this type of cat litter or packaging. I use a corn chicken feed product that comes in paper bags)

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