“ Manufacturer: Plascan Ltd / Type: Recycling tool „
Other Half and I are very keen on recycling. Just how keen only really became apparent to us recently, however, when icy conditions meant the local council didn't carry out their rubbish and recycling collections from our area for a full three weeks. By the time they did eventually turn up, most of our neighbours had overflowing bins and extra bags of rubbish piled up at the end of their drives. We, on the other hand, had failed to fill our wheelie bin - but instead had a massively overflowing kerbside collection box with extra cardboard boxes and bags of recycling piled alongside it, that had hitherto been building up in our garage like we had a den of wombles living in there. With the volume of recyclables we were creating starting to become unmanageable (well, it would be nice to use our garage as a garage rather than just an overflow storage area for redundant soft drink bottles and carefully preserved cardboard packaging) it seemed a good idea to look into ways of either storing this stuff better or reducing the amount of space it took up. A little research online revealed that an extra kerbside box (for storage) or a crushing device (to reduce volume) cost about the same, and with space being at a premium in our house, we felt that sticking to one box and crushing waste to be the best option for us. The fact that this option also allowed me to vent my frustrations on innocent plastic containers was just an added bonus.
There is a fairly wide selection of crushers currently available on the market. Ranging from the fully automated can crusher bin (quite a novelty, but not really practical with a price tag of £100) to heavy duty crushers than resemble car foot pumps (probably very satisfying to use, but £20 each is still a bit much) to wall mounted crushers (which are cheaper, but require you to give up wall space), the Plascan Crusher stood out as being both versatile and inexpensive. They are widely available, and I have seen them range in price from £9.50 (www.homerecycling.co.uk) to £15 (www.evengreener.co.uk); buying direct from the manufacturer (www.plascan.com) currently costs £10.99 for single orders or £19.99 for two crushers sent within the UK.
The Plascan Crusher is advertised as "the world's favourite recycling tool" (though on what grounds, it is not clear). Made from recycled plastic in the UK, the Plascan Crusher is a lightweight device designed for crushing plastic bottles and cans, which the manufacturers claim can reduce items down to a quarter of their original size. It comes in three pieces, a base, crusher and insert (all in green, naturally), and the idea is you use different parts of the device depending on the type of item you want to crush. If you are dealing with small bottles or cans, you place them on the base, place the crusher over the top of the bottle/can and clip the insert over the top of the crusher - the insert gives you a larger surface area than the crusher alone, and helps you to apply downward pressure onto the bottle/can. Larger bottles can be crushed with the insert alone, by placing it around the neck of the bottle and pushing firmly down. Once crushed, you need to replace the plastic caps on the bottles for at least 30 minutes to help them keep their newly reduced proportions - after that, you can remove the lids and recycle them separately. Once you are finished your crushing, the three parts fit together to be easily stored.
My first reaction to the crusher was that it seemed quite flimsy for something that is supposed to do a fairly tough task - I understood that I was buying something purposefully designed to be compact and lightweight, but I had expected the plastic to be a bit thicker and stronger than it appeared. Despite these initial misgivings, however, the crusher turns out to be robust enough for the job, and I have experienced no problems in this regard.
But what is it like to use? Since purchase, I have tried it out on a range of different items with admittedly mixed results. For bigger bottles (over 2 litres in capacity) or squarer bottles that don't fit well within the cylindrical crusher (such as Cravendale "jugs"), using the insert alone works well, and it does indeed compact the plastic down to an impressively small size. The problem I have is when I need to use the base; if you look at the product category image, you can see a cylinder of plastic (the crusher) and a wide piece around the neck (the insert) - the base is another cylinder that fits snugly inside the crusher. If you place a bottle on top of the base then add the crusher and insert over the top of the bottle, the idea is that the base helps you crush the bottle down further than if you were pushing against a flat surface like the floor. The problem I have is that as soon as you start to push down, one of two things happens - either the bottle slips off the base, or the base topples over. I have tried holding the base between my feet to prevent slippage, but even with practice about half the bottles I try to crush slip off the base and end up only semi-crushed or jammed inside the crusher - hardly as effective or efficient as the manufacturers claim. It does work better with cans, but they are easier to crush anyway.
In the end, I am moderately satisfied with the results of the Plascan Crusher. I like the fact that it is made of recycled materials, inexpensive, easy to store and that it works well on some things, but I find it too awkward with anything that requires the use of the base. This is a problem for me, as most of things I need to crush are the things needing the base to be applied. I am surprised that this is the "World's favourite recycling tool" - but then again, doesn't British Airways continue to be the "World's favourite airline"?
Not recommended (unless you have a lot of very large plastic bottles to crush).