In 2017, the world produced nearly 311 million tons of plastic, but less than 10% of that was recycled. While most people diligently fill their recycling bins, thinking they’re doing the right thing, the content of those bins often becomes waste instead of being recycled. But there’s hope–one innovative young designer has created an exciting new machine that everyone can use, in their homes, to not only recycle plastic waste, but to turn it into beautiful and useful new plastic objects. And, even more startling, this invention is free, with all the design blueprints soon to be up on the web for anyone to use.
This amazing invention is the brain child of Dave Hakkens, a 27-year-old Dutch designer, who is developing DIY machines to recycle plastic into functional and aesthetically pleasing objects. Started for his graduation project at the Design Academy in 2013, over the years, a bunch of talented people joined forces to find a solution to plastic pollution. The machine design has been shared as an online open source and can be made with basic tools and universally available materials. His company, Precious Plastic, plans to provide a series of detailed instructional videos, a download kit and a design blueprint, allowing people to create and craft new recycled plastic objects in their living rooms. The team aim to fix the global plastic pollution problem and believe this can have the greatest impact on recycling. And they’re making it as easy as possible for people to start, by removing any barriers.
We’re not in this to make money. We’re in this to fix one of the greatest human-related ecological disasters.
With such a great vision and the technology to go with it, there is great hope for plastic recycling and a cleaner planet for everyone. We live in tremendously exciting times, where people are creating simple and actionable solutions to truly massive global problems.
Precious Plastic was started in 2013 and the machine is now on its third iteration. Dave Hakkens says Precious Plastic is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution. Knowledge, tools and techniques are shared online for free. So everyone can start. Plus, the machine is a great way to bring communities together to recycle their plastic waste and make deeper connections. Now, this is not just a pie in the sky, the machine has been tested and piloted.
In May 2017, the first-ever Precious Plastic pilot was started in Kisii, Kenya. According to Dave, the pilot was set up in a city near Lake Victoria in the North of Kenya, where up to 61% of youths are unemployed and street fires are the norm to get rid of plastic.
I strongly believed from early in the project in the necessity to test our assumptions and speculations on the ground. And indeed, we’ve learned a great deal from setting up a workspace in a developing country with an extraordinary scarcity of resources, tools and recycling knowledge.
A year later and people in Kisii are now recycling plastic daily. A win for the project and its application in a developing country.
All we’ve learned will be soon open-sourced with our community to help the process of setting up a Precious Plastic workspace everywhere in the world.
Dave is passionate about changing global perceptions on plastic and educating people. He says most people don’t realise that plastic is actually a scarce resource, made from oil–a fossil fuel that took thousands of years to be created.
Plastic is one of the longest lasting materials on the planet. It does not decompose and will stick around for hundreds of years. Yet we use it to make the cheapest, most disposable products. Plastic is made to last forever but designed to be used for minutes. An incredible waste of potentials. We consider plastic a valuable material.
During the Dutch Design Week, the team set up an entire exhibition on Precious Plastic.
Showing our machines, blocks of waste, experiments we’ve done and products made by our worldwide community. And specially for this occasion introducing our artifacts. Precious delicate crafted objects that tell a story of plastic. Showing a whole range of possibilities and applications you can do with plastic waste. Inviting and hopefully inspiring others designers around the world to start working with this material.
Changing the World’s Plastic Waste Problem
With the global plastic problem a disaster, solutions like Dave’s are timely and hugely welcome. Inventions like this could stop the need for perpetual plastics and curb the exponential growth of plastics threatening to choke our planet.
Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, says plastic, while an incredibly useful product is fast becoming public enemy number one and that half a century of this ‘uncontrolled experiment’ is becoming as serious a problem as climate change.
Plastic use is on the rise, more than 10 percent a year, while industry titans build more and more profitable plastic factories with high priced fossil fuels.
Plastic is everywhere: filling our oceans, clogging our rivers, and littering our landscapes, while plastic fibres are poisoning marine life and humans. Studies have found that 94 percent of our drinking water and 93 percent of sampled bottled water worldwide are full of plastic particles and chemicals, many of which are linked to cancer, premature puberty, reduced immunity, birth defects, endocrine disruption, insulin resistance, and other major diseases. Fortunately young inventors like Dave and others are striving for creative solutions to help us all reduce our plastic use.
Precious Plastic is built upon the local availability of materials and components so that everyone can make the machines–no matter where they are in the world–and start recycling. A refreshing and potent new business paradigm of generosity, community and information sharing, with an elevated goal of saving our planet, not making profit.
Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitudes and behaviour about plastics.
This Earth Day, you can choose to reduce your plastic use as a gift to our planet and to future generations, and you may also want to commit to gathering your community together to create a plastic recycling machine from the Precious Plastic templates.