Making Recycling Accessible for Everyone
A Dutchman is trying to make it possible for anyone to recycle plastic by giving them all the tools to create a small-scale recycling plant
Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous packaging materials, but also one of the biggest physical pollutants worldwide. The current rate of plastic production is outpacing that of recycling, leaving millions of tons of recyclable plastic in landfills and bodies of water around the world. Boosting recycling rates is hard, especially in locations where there are too few or no processing plants. Additionally, even when the necessary infrastructure is present, it is difficult to incentivize individuals to recycle.
Nevertheless, the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens thinks he has found a solution to both problems – an open source course that provides interested individuals with all the tools necessary to open a small-scale recycling operation, from the basics on plastic and the blueprints for the machines to tutorials on producing merchandise from the recycled plastic.
All of this information lives on the website preciousplastic.com and is free of charge. Dave promises that it will stay that way forever and encourages the dissemination of all of the resources found on the site. The idea is to make it possible for anybody living anywhere in the world to recycle plastic and incentivize people to do so by turning recycling into a source of additional income.
One of the hardest parts in getting Precious Plastic off the ground was the development of the actual machines, because in order for the project to work they have to be built from simple, readily available materials and easy to construct with the help of a handyman. It took Dave and the rest of the team two years to design the shredder, which breaks up the plastic into small flakes, and the three manufacturing machines that turn the recycled plastic flakes into actual objects.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the project is that at this time a large part of the information is only available in English and the fact it can only reach people who have access to the internet and a significant portion of Precious Plastic’ target audience does not. The team is already working on the first issue and making subtitles for the videos on the site in a variety of languages with the help of the internet community.
In fact, “community” is an important part of the project because there is no way for Dave to anticipate all of the challenges his recycling pupils will encounter along the way, which is why he has created several forums where they can meet each other, discuss ideas, share their stories and give feedback.
Precious Plastic still has some room for growth, but it seems like a promising solution for a sizable amount of countries around the world.