Fireworks and plastic

Discussion in 'Fireworks Forum Chat And Discussion' started by Pyro Pete, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Pyro Pete

    Pyro Pete Forum Editor

    Picking up on the discussion about the Firefly system and possible reuse of igniters, it's interesting that our general awareness of plastic use has come up. I remember back in 1999 when I started UKFR and it was considered a "hoot" to let off a 1000 shot plastic missile cake and then churn up the debris for the next decade every time you mowed the lawn. But today... not sure I would even dream about letting such a firework off.

    I wonder if we're going to see any proactive changes being made in the fireworks industry with regards to environmental concerns? I'm happy letting off the majority of consumer items which leave a card/paper carcass which can be recycled. How about rockets though... is it practical to make the casings from card instead of plastic? And those plastic fuse covers... we never did find a use for them, is the plastic recyclable?

    I'm not suggesting we get too anal about it, for example you can't compromise the safety of an explosive item simply to try and reduce plastic use if there's no other alternatives available.

    But it's a subject that's more and more relevant as we realise where Earth is heading... so am very interested to know your views.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  2. AngryAndyPandy

    AngryAndyPandy Celtic Whore Supports UKFR

    I've thought about this a lot since last year when I let off a Crazy Whistling Comet and 22 large rockets. The amount of tiny plastic carcasses left was baffling to me and the large and an almost impossible task to clean them all up. I think we managed to recover around 200 of the 300 shots. I don't think I'll use the type again.

    As for the rockets, did they not used to be cardboard motor casings? Not only is the plastic an environmental concern, it also adds a fair mass to the stick on the way down. I'll be doing my best to get them recycled if it's possible.

    I for one would love to see more done in terms of reducing plastic usage, if it's safe to do so of course. Or even if there is more that can be done.

    That said the majority of fireworks are pretty clean in terms of the mess they make and materials they use.
  3. scoops

    scoops Pro Firer/Crew

    I know quite a few companies now separate their used igniters and weigh them in at intervals which helps but I'm not sure how much of the pyro carcass can be recycled? I think most councils would class them as contaminated waste due to the chemical residue?
    And on that point are the minerals etc used to produce the colours etc a declining resource?
    Jon likes this.
  4. maxywell

    maxywell Supports UKFR

    I think the biggest problem with making rocket casings out of card is damp.Cakes can be easily waterproofed rockets less so unless you remove it before firing.Fuse covers are just a pain, is there even any practical safety reason why they're needed?
  5. I think of course any way to reduce plastic use can only be good, aside from rocket motors and missile cakes, rocket casings can also make a huge mess. The amount of plastic debris from 2 packs of Air Hawks a few years ago was very substantial, it's actually a secondary reason I tend to only get smaller rockets now seeing as they're made largely of card. The only other thing that does annoy me a bit is when cakes are wrapped with a plastic film as well as paper, seems wholly unnecessary to me when most cakes just have the paper on them
  6. The plastic in Malta is getting horrendous. Each unit in a berraq shell has a plastic cap in each end. I know some guys make 30k inserts, that's 60k per man. Times may be 10 guys per factory, and 36 factories on the island.....
  7. Jon

    Jon Pro Firer/Crew

    Sorry, I will get my coat.....:(
  8. Jon

    Jon Pro Firer/Crew

    Last time is spoke to the council (a few years back) and they said it cakes would be general waste and not recycling for a few reason. Including contamination they also have clay, wire and heavy duty glue etc.
  9. Arthur

    Arthur Pro Firer/Crew

    Much as I like to reduce plastics use, the reason why plastics are used is partly for speed, a plastic plug closes a tube instantly that would need a card disc and some glue and an hour to dry.
    With the news report today of the Asian fire cracker factory blast I'd be keen not to lose the safety that has been built into modern manufactured fireworks and cautious to change designs without thought.

    Also every component of a firework has an impact on it's UN classification, 1.4 is good for easy trade, 1.3 makes life harder for suppliers and couriers and the difference may solely be down to the packaging and protection. I know of some maroons that were realistically expected to be 1.1, but properly packed actually tested to be 1.4s. Very likely the packaging of fireworks governs their hazard classification and very likely the factories want their product to be as effective as possible with the maximum possible of their output being 1.4, because 1.3 cost more to ship and more to supply wholesale.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  10. DannyB

    DannyB Pro Firer/Crew

    I'm quite surprised maroons at coming out as 1.4S be interested to see details of that.
  11. I am less worried. My foot print on this planet is quite small and i dont think that changes made for the couple of times a year to my fireworks will make much of an difference.

    I would be more concerned that changes to reduce plastic would put up the price or the availability of products that i want with little to no benefit to me.
  12. Tinderbox

    Tinderbox Pro Firer/Crew

    Fireworks were all cardboard and wood back in the day. I see absolutely zero reason why we can not go back to 100% carboard including the motor casings and nose cones. The use of plastic in fireworks is really quite staggering. We stopped selling gimmicky rockets like Flying Pigs etc purely because of the type of plastic. Really brittle and leaves very sharp hard fragments all over. Disgusting really. I'd be in favour of backing a return to paper casings any day and as someone else pointed out, a heavy plastic motor body still attached to a large rocket stick is a very real danger. Fancy getting a direct hit from above with one of those things. At least if it was a card tube it would absorb a lot of the energy when it eventually hits whatever it's heading for.
  13. Tinderbox

    Tinderbox Pro Firer/Crew

  14. There is way too much plastic used, there are alternative options that would biodegrade over time but that could become an issue if the firework was stored I guess. Fireworks in themselves aren't environmentally friendly in composition though. Something to definitely think about though.
  15. Why cant the fuse covers be re used?? Im a fisherman and some of the top shops offer a recycle service for used line, so why cant big firework shops offer a bucket to take your covers in then send bulk loads back to the factorys to re use?
    Joe Ciabatti likes this.
  16. Jon

    Jon Pro Firer/Crew

    A log fire is not environmentally friendly either.......but humans have been stupidly using them for 100s of years :p

    On a serious point you are quite correct. I think like everything it's about being more friendly rather than completely friendly!
  17. hofnerite

    hofnerite UKFR Stash Photo 2018 Winner! Supports UKFR

    Bioplastics will be in complete use within the next decade replacing traditional plastic. Then we can be happy dumping everything in the sea again!
    Jon, Pyro Pete and elmo like this.
  18. Tinderbox

    Tinderbox Pro Firer/Crew

    Why do they have to be plastic anyway? A simple thin card tube would suffice. If a flimbsy orange paper sleave is good enough for covering the visco to quickmatch leader on an 8" shell...
  19. Tinderbox

    Tinderbox Pro Firer/Crew

    Last year I strapped a large number of Celtic bundles together. You know the ones with tiny plastic cartridges that give glitter tails and then open up silently into coloured flowers. Had probably half a case all rigged to shoot on one fuse as part of our new year show. The hundreds of grey plastic carrtridge cases the next day was staggering. We also had loads of War Hawks and other plastic nose coned rockets and a 1000's missile cake. This was a relatively small show compared to most years. The quantity of plastic hurled into the environment must have been pretty extensive. We always do our best to clean up afterwards but like others have said, it really makes you think and that will be my last missile cake and possibly my last bundle of those lovely quiet flowers with glittering tails candles. Though on a calm night those can be cleared up fairly easily next day.

    On the subject of rocket motor casings, back in the day I remember cardboard tubes with the nozzles crimped into the casing itself. Never had any problems with those...
  20. Arthur

    Arthur Pro Firer/Crew

    Plastic rocket cases allow better performance from smaller motors, the public is now used to high performance rocket motors so how do we manage expectations and NEQ requirements.