Since 1980, toymaker Bandai has been pumping out a constant stream of model kits based on the Gundam mecha anime series. These kits are called Gunpla, with the “pla” being short for “plastic,” the most prominently used material in the scale robots.
Not all the plastic that comes in a Gunpla kit gets used in the model itself, though. Groups of component plastic pieces are often attached to an outer frame, called a “runner.”
Once the model has been put together, the runner serves no more purpose, and so four Bandai Namco Group companies, Bandai Namco Holdings, Bandai Spirits, Bandai Namco Amusement, and logistics division Logipal Express, are launching the Gunpla Recycling Project. On the consumer side of the project, Gunpla recycling boxes are being installed in Namco video game centers across Japan, where model builders can deposit their no-longer-needed Gunpla runners.
The runners, along with waste plastic from Gunpla production centers, will be collected and used in three different types of recycling, starting with chemical recycling, in which plastic polystyrene will be broken down into styrene monomer which can be used as raw materials for new plastic parts.
That’s pretty dang awesome.