Our problem with plastic waste is well documented; it fills our oceans at a rate of more than half a million pieces per square metre. In some parts of the world, it’s the consumers and companies that are doing the most damage. Of the 5.68 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in Germany in 2013, for example, 4.75 million tonnes of plastic waste came from household or commercial sources. 1.4 million tonnes of plastic waste was attributable to packaging alone.
Recognising that the plethora of plastic waste is essentially an untapped resource for making new products, Dutchman Dave Hakkens was inspired to create something that ordinary citizens could use to recycle plastic. A few years ago, he developed a prototype for his own at-home plastic recycling system. That project has now become Precious Plastic, an open source initiative that allows anyone to build a series of tools – a shredder, a compressor, an injection device and an extrusion machine – that can be used to turn plastic waste into a completely new object, like a vase, bowl or lampshade.
How It Works
First, waste is shredded into small particles (the size of these particles can be adjusted). These bits are then either: heated in the compressor and then pressed into a mould (ideal for larger objects); heated and then injected into a mould (for smaller creations); or placed into a hopper and extruded as a thin line of plastic (think filament for 3D printing).
The tools on offer include blueprints for building the necessary machines in modules, instruction videos, as well as a wealth of information and tips about plastic and what you can make once you’ve recycled it. The team has specifically designed the package so that it uses tools and materials that can be found in many countries.
It is no doubt easier to toss plastic waste in recycling bins however, not all countries have proper recycling schemes in place. Beyond that, one of the great things about this project is it makes the plastic recycling process tangible, and, in doing so, helps foster a sense of ownership as to how our own personal plastic waste is managed.
Curious to try it out? Head to the Precious Plastic website to download everything you need or check out the video below outlining the idea: