Plastic Fantastic tour update

Plastic Fantastic tour update

Plastic Fantastic tour update: what we have been doing, where, and with what results. As we traverse Southern Africa on the Plastic Fantastic tour. An initiative to educate grassroots communities, who are inundated with our plastic waste, on how to gather, sort, clean and recycle certain ‘good’ plastics. Into useful items. Like trinkets for sale to tourists. Or useful household items, like door stoppers.

Branko’s 3D Print

Back in Tofo 24 November 2019.

Amazingly enough, Branko of Branko’s Pizza in Tofo, has a 3D printer. And he is a master operator at it.

And so, over another delicious pizza and cold beer, I presented my problem of the moulds, to Branko. He flew into action, and the very next day had me sitting watching over his shoulder as he produced miracles on the screen.

Firstly, he downloaded a bunch of whale sharks and other marine life, until he found the right one. We had to make a mould positive that could be pressed into a mould making substance and be removed, leaving a simple mould behind. And so the underneath had to be flat. And so Branko found a beautful whale shark, and surgically made the bottom of the shark flat. Then he extruded the edges from the outside profile, down. Forming an edge that could easily be removed from the newly-made mould.


The pectoral fins were too low and got cut off too!

So, Branko opened the original model again, removed each pectoral, and placed them on our modified model, just as close to dammit as is perfect.

The next thing, we were ready for printing! I filmed, but literally, I watched, every half millimetre layer of plastic being laid down. That honeycomb motion of the head had me mesmerised and when the model popped out, I stayed mesmerised. Such detail. A perfect model for us to plastic fantastic further with.

Then the evergreen Branko pumped out a turtle.

And we went off to make moulds of all sorts, with these models as references and positives.

A HUGE thank you to Branko at the pizza shop down near the beach on Praia do Tofo.

The Fatima’s Backpacker

Sitting at Fatima’s overlooking our all-new sandbank that just appeared out of nowhere, I had the fortune to start up a chat with none other than a crime reporter from London! The Times!

And so we got chatting about things, when John (never got his surname, never do in these chance encounters), lamented – “Damn, I feel really bad. A kid came up to me in the market selling recycled plastic whale sharks, and I said no!”.

But John’s temporary regret was my best news ever. It meant that the kids in the market had eventually cottoned onto to the Plastic Fantastic methodology, and were now making and selling theirown recycled products. This is marvellous news. Since firstly, you cannot find a bottle top or cap in the whole of Tofo. They have being actively collected, at 50 Mets a checkers bag. I was paying 200 mets per worker in the plastic factory in the back of the market. They were making about 20 finished products per day. I personally sold about 20 whale sharks altogether, and gave the rest away for awareness. But then I left it to the crew and pursued plastic further north in Pomene and up to Bazaruto Island.

When I returned, I was bitterly disappointed. Nothing was being done in the plastic factory in the back of the Tofo market. But I stood my ground and said there would be no more wages or plastic supply by The Sardine News anymore. They had to do it on their own.

And so, another two weeks later, and the news from John, is proof that The Plastic Fantastic plastic cleanup project is kicking into gear.

Return to Pomene

3 December 2019

The return to Pomene was also not as rewarding, but follow up we did. They had made no turtles or things, but, had started collecting caps and tops, at least.

But this was a chance to up the game. To move onto the beach, and collect it all!

The sun was beating down, so I gave myself a few minutes to collect what I could. All plastic that floats, and therefore ends up on our beaches, is either HDPE (#2), LDPE (#4) or PP (#5). And whilst LDPE and HDPE will happily join forces and become a mouldable substance, this is not ideal, since the stuff cannot be recycled as pure HDPE or LDPE, in the future. PP on the other hand only melts at a challenging 160 degrees celsius.

And so I charged on out into the blazing December sun, and grabbed what I could. Bottle caps again made up the most of the collection. But I found some crate pieces, brittle but definitely HDPE. A few whitish bottles made the cut, and I ran back into the shade.

The collection of fan blades in the dilapidated outhouse we found, was raided again. This time, we formed the aluminium into a barrelling wave. Into which we inserted our plastic. The barrel part of the wave was the melting chamber and was about 6 inches long. Deep barrel! The face of the wave acted like a hopper and could swallow plastic as fast as we collected it. The plunging stick came from a tree with a branch the right banana-like shape, as the fan blade mutated with all the metalwork. Voila, ready to extrude.

The first attempt almost worked. But I was a bit slow from fire to mould, and the plastic never came out fluid-like, as I fumbled with the plunger.


This time we got it smoother as Chad (whom you will have met in our YouTube series Plastic Fantastic), heated his machete in the fire, and used it to spread the plastic like peanut butter, once it came out of the makeshift extruder. Since the knife was so hot, the result was smooth and beautiful. The best whale shark underbelly we have produced so far!

And so we got production underway because it was too hot to surf, fish, or drink beer.

The third batch went into the hopper. But something was wrong. The melt wouldn’t melt, as the HDPE got all stuck to and around a PP bottle. Which I had mistaken for HDPE!

This was the first time I had made this mistake. But, it certainly will be the last, I hope. Because the resultant mess was a lump of unusable, or salvageable mess of incompatible plastics.

Don’t do this. Rather religiously use plastic that is marked with its type. Only.

Panzy Island

25 November 2019.

It just so happens, that Branko of Branko’sPizza in Tofo, also owns a boat!

And so we came to set sail, from the delightfully scenic Barra, to the even more surreal Panzy Island. All aboard Branko’s dhow!

Our volunteer crew were Pedro and Kristina from Majorca. Anthony and Barbara from the Basque Country. And Fraik and Dorothy from Amsterdam. Plus me and Branko.

It’s a fantastic zig-zag across the endless Inhambane Bay. The low tide took us through the crystal clear channels and in amongst fishermen of all sorts. By the time we had got to Panzy Island, we had picked up quite a few kilos of seafood.

“Is it fresh?”, Branko was heard to joke!

We had blue swimming crabs (karangez), mangrove monsters (santola), whitebait (nyakusi), calamari (lula) and clams (amejwa). Did I mention the oysters (ostras), my favourites?!

When we moored on the lee, the island was full of plastic, we collected two sacks of all sorts, and took it back with us. Kristina from Majorca assisted in making the video and did a whole section in German? Thank you Kristina!

And then we ate. And ate. And ate. Snorkelling and exploring in between. Until finally Branko pulled out his last surprise.

6 Huge sirloin steaks!

And the Plastic Fantastic project gathers momentum.

Watch the Panzy Island video right here…

The Sardine News has been on tour promoting Plastic Fantastic ideology and methodology, all around Southern Africa. If you would like your name or brand to associated with helping to clean the beaches and oceans this way, please get in touch with me, Sean, on WhatsApp +27793269671.

Or see how you could possibly contribute or assist, at this link:

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