THERE are many ways to spend a day but sifting through milk bottle lids might not be everybody’s cup of tea.

But for recycling enthusiast Melanie Rees there is no better way to pass the hours than with this painstaking, planet-saving and “therapeutic” activity.

The founder and creative director of The Green Centre spent 12 straight hours this month sorting 400,000 milk bottle lids for a fundraising drive for Lupus UK and Lupus Brighton and Hove.

The mountain of bottle tops had accumulated since Christmas after the centre in Manor Hill, Brighton, lost the assistance of two dedicated volunteers leaving the team to resolve that only a marathon could sort it out.

Miss Rees was supported by 13 assistants who came and went during the 12 hour epic and she donned a different hat every hour to keep spirits up.

Having worked at the centre for the past seven years, she said she was still surprised by the rogue items that got into donations including wine corks, keys, money and medical needles.

It is not practical for the CityClean depot at Hollingdean to sort through by hand the millions of plastic lids the city throws away so it falls to the centre to carry out the laborious task.

After they are sorted they are the sent to Portsmouth where they have date with The Dragon – a machine which helps turn the bottle tops into children’s toys, garden furniture, bin bags and car interiors.

The labour intensive sorting does not lead to rich pickings – for the 400,000 lids sorted they will receive just £30.

Even by recycling rates this puts it at the bottom of the pile at just 6p a kilo compared 35p a kilo for aluminium or up to £2 a kilo for copper.

But Miss Rees says the work has its own rewards.

She said: “It’s really quite therapeutic, it’s a very relaxing activity to do, people enjoy doing it.

“We have people volunteering here who because of mental health problem may find it difficult to do regular work, but we provide work they can enjoy and do a job that nobody else would do.”

To donate to the fundraising effort