Australian Instagram and YouTube personality Cid Dwyer has launched his own small business called The TOTI, where he up-cycles single-use plastic by hand and at home. Transforming discarded plastic into various household items and jewellery. With his expertise in content creation, Dwyer also meticulously documents his process as engaging bite-size videos. These videos allow his audiences to create their own up-cycled pieces at home.

The TOTI recycled earrings - Pink, Red, Green by Cid Dwyer. Image courtesy of The TOTI’s website.

For someone promoting his own brand of upcycled goods, the approach may seem counterintuitive. However, as he outlined on The TOTI’s website, his goal is not to sell products but “[…] to catalyze a larger movement toward sustainability and environmental responsibility.” This makes his work relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production.

The TOTI recycled plant pot - White, Green, Light Blue, Red by Cid Dwyer. Image courtesy of The TOTI’s website.

To create his pieces, Dwyer works with his local community at Riverina, New South Wales, to collect colourful discarded plastic bottle caps. He begins his process by washing, drying and sorting them by colour. The painstakingly sorted bottle caps are then fed through a shredder machine, creating plastic pellets that are ready to be cast into whatever Dwyer desires.

Top view of The TOTI recycled plant pot by Cid Dwyer. Image courtesy of The TOTI’s website.

To create individual items such as earrings, trays and bowls, Dwyer would simply feed the plastic pellets into an injection device fitted into a corresponding mould. This end-to-end process allows Dwyer to keep track of exactly how many bottle caps are required to create individual items. So far, he has shared that a planter requires 40 bottle lids, a tray requires 30 lids and a bowl requires 26 lids.

The TOTI recycled earrings - White, Green, Light Blue, Red by Cid Dwyer. Image courtesy of The TOTI’s website.

The Australian government found that Australians used around 3.4 million tons of plastic a year, a staggering number which propelled them to create a National Plastics Plan in 2018. However, a 2023 report published by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) found that even with the national plan in motion, only 18 percent of plastic packaging was being recycled, a number which they found will only go up to 70 percent by 2025. 

The TOTI recycled decorative bowl by Cid Dwyer. Image courtesy of The TOTI’s website.

Since 2021, experts have warned that the Australian government’s target to recycle 100 percent of its plastic waste will never be met unless strong penalties are introduced. This is exactly why at-home initiatives such as Dwyer’s are crucial to helping the Australian government meet its plastic recycling quota. More so, considering Dwyer’s campaign to ensure that his audiences have accessible guidelines, should they like to start their own at-home recycling projects.

By transforming discarded plastic bottle caps into functioning household items and jewelry, Dwyer not only reduces waste but also promotes wider recycling and even reusing practices at home. In a country where plastic consumption remains alarmingly high and recycling rates are struggling to catch up, initiatives such as Dwyer’s hold the potential to create lasting long-term impacts for the better.

Find out more about Cid Dwyer’s upcycled plastic household items and their other pieces by checking their personal Instagram on @cid_dwyer or their brand, The TOTI’s Instagram on @the_toti.

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