Post B: Plastic Fantastic

During primary and high school education, HSIE and geography classes touched upon the topic of plastics, about how integrated they are in our society, how we recycle them, that they end up in landfills and the such. However, with the plentiful incorporation of rubbish bins in public places, the reality of our plastic waste situation has never hit me, and based on my general assumptions not many others understand the reality of it either.

According to statistics, Io (2016) states that in 2015 we produced almost 311 million tonnes of plastic but less than 10% was recycled. Difficulties in sorting out plastics for recycling, and the impure nature of recycled plastics having a damaging effect on machinery made factories reluctant to recycle, also since brand new plastic is much more reliable (Precious Plastic 2016). Because of this issue, Design Academy Einhoven graduate and 27 year old Dutch designer, Dave Hakkens, created the Precious Plastic project and has been working on it since 2013. The open-source code allows one to build your own DIY machines that are able to recycle plastics into usable objects, not to mention it is public and free for everyone. While the machines in the video certainly look impressive and made to a professional standard, Hakkens says that materials for making these machines are readily available for really low prices world-wide from junkyards and the such (Etherington 2013).

Plastic chips in all its glory. Photograph: Precious Plastic by Dave Hakken 2013

So far, four different machines are available to be created; one for shredding plastic waste, an extrusion machine for creating plastic string, a moulding machine and an oven for larger and more solid objects. Each machine has different variables to suit whatever you’d like to create, and Hakkens believes the only limit is your creativity (Etherington 2013).

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.22.07 PM
An array of what can be made. Image: Precious Plastic 2016
A flower pot with beautiful colours. Photograph: Precious Plastic Flower Pot 2016
A visually striking set of plastic serving platters. Photograph: Precious Plastic Bowl Set 2016

The prototypes from the website range from household decor items such as vases and containers, to stationery such as clipboards, and recycled plastic rope ties. The website also contains comprehensive video tutorials on plastics in general, how to collect and sort them, how to build your machines and also how to create your items.

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Several video tutorials available on the website in case you’re lost. Image: Precious Plastic 2016

Precious Plastics is a non-profit project as Hakkens prefers that people source and create for themselves, but there is the option to donate towards the project. Sharing the awareness is encouraged, and there’s also a data visualisation of how many and where the page has been shared throughout the world. Interestingly enough, Sydney and Melbourne collectively stood out on the map, with the main contender being the area surrounding the Netherlands area. They also have a public forum where people are able to post questions and improvements on the project, making it a collaborative group effort.

While I was quite interested in the idea and thought that the products made were very fun and quirky, it personally didn’t motivate me enough to actually go and build one of their machines. As a graphic design student, being too hands on especially in terms of building large structures was never my forte. However if they were able to provide the machines and possibly even workshops and events at the landfill, I’d be more involved in collecting plastic waste or bringing in my own to create products.

Reference List

Etherington, R. 2013, ‘Precious Plastic by Dave Hakkens’, Dezeen Magazine, 21 October, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Io, M. 2016 DIY recycling machines will let anyone turn plastic waste into functional objects, Inhabitat, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Precious Plastic 2016, Precious Plastic, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Image Reference List

Precious Plastic, 2016, Precious Plastic, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Precious Plastic Bowl Set, 2016, Climate Change for Good, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Precious Plastic by Dave Hakkens, 2013, Dezeen, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

Precious Plastic Flower Pot, 2016, Climate Change for Good, viewed 10 April 2016, <>.

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