4 Aug 2022

Recycled skateboards

From Nights, 7:45 pm on 4 August 2022

Christchurch teenager Neith Absalom has figured out a way to reuse plastic bottle tops by melting them down to make skateboard decks.

Despite the success of his business Over The Top Recycling, Neith says he sees himself more as "a PE kid" than an inventor.

"I'm just a PE kid, man. I've just always been active… and then skateboarding popped up into my life as a mode of transport. Now it's like man, where do I go from here?" he tells Bryan Crump.

Christchurch is a great city for skateboarding because it's so flat says 15-year-old Neith, who describes himself as a 'cruiser'.

"Falling off a skateboard the speed that I go hurts me enough."

When Neith first started researching products he could make with recycled plastic to get a bit of money, he says bottle tops kept coming up as plastic items that weren't being recycled.

He started collecting them and melting them down – in an old barbecue. 

High-density polyethylene – which bottle tops are made of – is really easy to melt down safely at 120-150C, Neith says.

Melted down, the bottle tops form a "really hard slime" that Neith pours into a stainless steel skateboard frame made by a school friend.

A recycled coffee sack made of hemp is embedded into the skateboard deck to give grip.

Neith uses just over 1,000 bottle tops to make a multi-coloured skateboard deck, which always has blue as a base colour "because most people drink blue milk".

People pay $150 - $200 for a "decent cruiser" skateboard deck, he says, but his Over The Top Recycling decks sell for $120 each, plus another $30 if you want a customised design such as a laser kiwi.

In the future, Neith hopes to use melted-down bottle tops to make longboards and kids' toys.