Trio’s plan to find new uses for Thanet’s waste plastic

Mellisa Fisher, Frank White and Matt Mapleston

By Jodie Nesling

Living by the sea, plastic use is never far from our thoughts as community groups campaign for better recycling and litter pick to protect the isle’s coastline.

Now, an innovative new project has been launched,  designed to reuse anything from milk bottles to plastic bags by recreating them into products such as bricks and bowls.

The Reform team consists of artist Mellisa Fisher, engineer Matt Maplestone and workshop owner Frank White. The trio started collaborating after a meeting at an exhibition at Pie Factory Margate and soon realised their diverse talents could be put to good use.

“I trained as an engineer and then worked in coding before I was made redundant in 2012. I’m self-employed and am doing much cooler stuff. I work shoulder to shoulder with artists and designers”, said Matt.

Mellisa has a studio space at Resort in Athelstan Road and works as an art technician at Dane Court Grammar. The 28-year-old says her passion is celebrating and informing science through art. “I was working as an illustrator and then went on to gain an MA in Fine Art. Science, although I liked biology, was never really accessible for me.

“I love looking at bacteria through the microscope and producing a sculpture for the visual eye. It’s about turning the micro to the macro to educate. I had the idea of working with plastic after coming across Precious Plastics. It is such an amazing material to work with and there is so much you can do with it.“

The organisation came up with a solution to turn waste plastic into useable plastics and shared the idea in order to form a global network of people working to combat waste.

Frank White, who owns Grandad’s Workshop in Westwood, joined the team and provided the space for them to turn their ideas into reality. “We have used parts from a motability scooter to make the shredder and an oven to melt the plastic. From an engineer’s point of view it really is a wonder material. Frank is a real problem solver and has so much experience. He worked as a teacher for many years,” said Matt.

Mellisa will be putting her artistic skills to good use and will be experimenting with a number of different moulds to see what can be produced.

The machinery will be portable and will soon be off to the Arts Waves festival in Bridlington Spa. There are plans to work with the community to see what can be made in the future.