Reducing Waste

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by nimblemotors, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. nimblemotors
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    nimblemotors Senior Member

    I've been building a small catamaran, and am shocked at all the waste I created. I never thought much about it before.
    When Acetone was cheap I could clean things, now everything is just disposable, gloves, brushes, cups, sissors.
    It is mostly plastic that concerns me.

    I was looking at infusion, and that too seems to create a lot of waste.

    Any tips, ideas, suggestions?
  2. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    If you have a stove or fireplace, you can burn these items. Or purchase a plastic recycling device that turns the waste into fuel oil for diesel engines.
    More complicated but interesting solutions are making furniture, garden fences or household items from recycled plastics. There are even companies that collect plastic waste and sell it in China where they turn it into useful plastic products again, like TV back covers and all sorts of car parts.
  3. robwilk37
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    robwilk37 Senior Member

    my boats coming together almost entirely out of salvaged/repurposed/second hand materials, and i keep a tight leash on the trash i generate. most importantly i use an epoxy that can be thinned with alcohol, so everything gets cleaned after use and reused... mixing cups, stir sticks, squeegees, putty knives, heavy gloves etc. there are also formulations that can be cleaned up with vinegar. ive been using the same quart cups for epoxy for more than a year. i do go through a few rags though, havent found a way around that yet. and all the weird shapes of marine doug fir ply laying around. i just keep cutting smaller and smaller pieces out of them and their shapes get weirder and weirder.

    i gave up on latex/nitrile gloves a long time ago in favor of heavier chemical gloves that can be cleaned and reused. quart yogurt/cottage cheese containers are great for mixing and you can peel the soft epoxy out of them and reuse indefinitely (have your friends save their empties for you).the stuff i do end up throwing away invariably goes into the recycle bin and almost never the trash. with a little effort boat building can be a much cleaner enterprise.

    the boat itself was bought for $1 right before the chain saws got to it.
  4. Westfield 11
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    Westfield 11 Senior Member

    What is the impact of the cured but unused epoxy in landfills? Does anything leach out into the water table or is it one of those eternal wastes that never degrade and will be with us forever?
    Not sure where the rest of you live, but burning any sort of plastic or epoxy is a no no here without filters and scrubbers. The Air Quality Management District does not approve of releasing clouds of smoke containing chemicals and possible carcinogens for the rest of us to breathe and I can't really blame them. Maybe it's OK in the Freedom loving states like Texas or West Virginia, but not in California.
  5. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    Hi Nimble,

    You could use glass offcuts to stuff cushions;0! & sell em at the market.....

    Some washing powder used to shift resin, we used to use "Cold Power" but using hot water.
    or have a canoe or pool filter mold standing by for offcuts/overs.
    I've heard of thinners recyclers- some kind of still but never seen one.
    Thicker gloves are good, we sometimes use the ones for washing up & get a few goes out of them, they get cleaned at the same time as tools, gotta wear toweling bandages to wrists with them....
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Ground up to very fine particles, a little ketchup, have lots of parties for folks you don't like all that much . . .
  7. nimblemotors
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    nimblemotors Senior Member

    Can you send me your address, I have this wonderful fruitcake to send you.
    That will go well with all the beer you are drinking before posting.
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Everyone knows you don't have beer with fruitcake . . .
  9. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    There are weird people who have threads here based on old style boat building.
    They cut directly to the "no epoxy" waste, including no epoxy at all.
    If you really want to go green, go all the way, don't just cover over the fact you are still using nasty old chemicals.
  10. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    How about the petroleum molecules lubricating the motors and engines used to cut the wood? Maybe the coal used to get the steel hot enough to shape into the tools you'll employ, working the wood into a boat? Or the partially burned hydrocarbons that outgas from the power transmission line sheathings, that bring the electricity to your shop? I'm all for being green, but in our world this is a relative term.
  11. Yellowjacket
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    Yellowjacket Senior Member

    Silly me, I thought this would be a thread about how to save money by not wasting as much epoxy, or something like that... If you are thinking about being "green" you need to go back to using wood and glue and using something like tar for a sealant...

    Then again maybe you want us to go back to living in log cabins in the woods with outdoor plumbing...

    Get over it..

    Compared to industrial companies you aren't making enough waste to filling three or four garbage cans building an entire boat if it was all compacted down.....

    It's nice to want to think green, but in the grand scheme of things if you just recycle what is obvious and not worry about the rest you are doing fine.
  12. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Perhaps you need to think about a sense of humor.

    Lots of people want to live in log cabins, but they don't need to move the plumbing outdoors.
  13. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Okay, gloves. I use SAS Thicksters and can get a week of epoxying out of one pair. Just wipe them well then let the goo harden on them, stretch the glove, and it all falls off. I used two pair to build my dingy, the second pair was for painting.

    The rest is all about planning. Layout every last piece of everything on paper first. The best I've managed was 4% waste by weight compared to the finished boat. That was a plywood build skinned with glass. The scrap from three sheets of plywood would fit in my pocket.

    Use suppliers that will sell you the quantity you need from their bulk supplies. Don't buy 8 yards of glass if you only need 7.5. Buy everything by weight. The only thing I buy that is sold by volume is Cabosil, which is usually sold in Ziploc bag sizes. When you design the boat, design to standard sizes. If you have 25 feet of primary wire in your basement, then you know where the start battery is going. Unload, inventory, and repack any and all sheds before you begin a build. You'll be amazed what turns up. Using up the scrap you have is half the battle. The idea is to not have more scrap at the end than you had at the start.

    Figure out how to not do any sanding or grinding. These are hugely time consuming and expensive processes and they generate huge quantities of waste. This is just a matter of process. They are entirely unnecessary except for cosmetic considerations if you plan your build around avoiding them. And they didn't exist until recently.

    Avoid mixing little batches of epoxy. Figure out how to use a pint at a time, even if it is a tiny boat. Set up ten different little jobs if you have to, but mixing 2 oz of epoxy at a time is a sure way to learn to hate the stuff. It is often worth building the boat, then disassembling it, then beginning the epoxy work. I spent about a year building a strip plank mahogany canoe by glueing one strip each day with epoxy. Never again.

    Waste is just a reflection on the planning that went into the build. What ever it is, the design needs to account for the process - and that include the waste stream. Budget yourself a pair of (or 6, or 10) chip brushes per gallon of epoxy and figure it out. My scissors are 30 years old, as are many of my tools, including some well worn disposable yellow plastic spreaders. I've been mixing epoxy in the same plastic tub and dumping it into the same old teflon skillet for twenty years. The skillet helps with temperature control. Old light bulbs make great filleting tools. Stock up before they are gone forever.
  14. nimblemotors
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    nimblemotors Senior Member

    Thanks for any tips.

    One thing I discovered was thinning body filler with acetone, it makes it much creamier and easier to smooth it which results in using less material, less time sanding, and less dust.

    I will have to try the glove thing, I go though so many of the thin disposable ones.

    I am reusing my containers a lot more now and trying to batch resin work.

  15. redreuben
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    redreuben redreuben

    I've used acetone recyclers, yes they are a still and they are bloody brilliant.
    The left over slurry is not so nice though !
    The acetone from ours was as good as virgin and the recovery rate was pretty high, not sure if its "economical" for a lone builder but yes they work and work well.
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