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'It's not trash, it's treasure' | Charlotte nonprofit using recycled material for PPE

The folks at Envision Charlotte say they can make PPE out old take out containers, but they need the public's help.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The country can't seem to get enough PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment. In Charlotte, a new nonprofit group is throwing their ingenuity into face shield frames before they even get their building finished. 

After all, it's a mission they're made for.

To hear Amy Aussieker tell it, the future of our planet runs right through this old Charlotte warehouse.

"We are at the Innovation Barn which will be the center place for the circular economy which is what Charlotte is doing to transition to a more sustainable future," Aussieker said.

Aussieker says they'll build that future by diverting waste from the landfill and into new products.

"We're gonna have a precious plastics lab and the first project that we're gonna do is the PPE," she said.

The folks at Envision Charlotte say they can make PPE out old take out containers, but they need the public's help.

"The heavy plastic takeout containers like these are the kind that we're looking for," said Aussieker. "Take the sticker off and make sure they're clean, run them through your dishwasher."

But it can't be curbside recycled.

"This stuff goes into the landfill, sits there, emits co2 gasses  — it's terrible," Aussieker said. "Why not use this endlessly like its purposed?"

Envision Charlotte will soon receive equipment that will turn heavy plastic into a pliable filament.

"We'll turn it into filament and then we'll donate it into any organization that is 3D printing those face shields," Aussieker said.

Face shields that are used on the front lines of the coronavirus, made from the take out containers you probably have in your kitchen cabinets.

"It's not trash, it's treasure," Aussieker added.

The Innovation Barn will open to the public in October, but the group known as Envision Charlotte is already accepting clean takeout containers to be used for PPE at Charlotte's Solid Waste Services Department.

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